As you may know already, Daimler and PSA/Peugeot-Citroen are set to introduce more hybrid vehicles on the market and it appears that this fact made Toyota and Honda rushing exploit their advantage in hybrid systems.
Toyota already began to sell the U.K.-built Auris compact hybrid in Europe in July and the Lexus CT 200h will make its debut on the market in 2011.
Honda already revealed the Jazz hatchback hybrid, which will hit the dealerships in early 2011. For those who don’t know, the new European standards taking force in 2014 will require carmakers to cut nitrogen-oxide emissions for diesel engines by 56 percent to 80 milligrams (0.003 ounce) per kilometer (0.62 mile).
This means that few current diesel cars comply, while rules for gas engines and hybrids won’t change with the tighter rules known as Euro 6.
The Asian carmakers are considered the most advanced in hybrid cars, as the Toyota Prius was the world’s first gasoline-electric car and introduced 13 years ago, back in 1997.
"There was a sea change with regard to European carmakers’ attitude toward hybrids two or three years ago,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany. “It’s a long-distance race, but the technological advantage of the Japanese can be made up.” [via autonews - sub. required]