Honda and Citroen have already presented a pictorial preview of their hero cars for the 2008 Paris Motor Show.
They will fight with an all-electric Nissan number and a diesel Mazda city car for major bragging rights.
Honda has the front running with a car that looks like a Prius clone and carries the Insight name of its first — unsuccessful — petrol-electric production car.
This new Insight will break new ground by “providing an affordable hybrid to an expanded number of customers craving great fuel economy and great value,” says Honda president Takeo Fukui.
Insight II is a big change from Honda's Civic hybrid and is planned to be much cheaper than any other hybrid on show.
Honda is calling it a “family hybrid concept”. It is said to be smaller than the Civic but still capable of carrying five people inside its hatchback body.
Despite the visual connection to the Toyota, Honda says Insight II's styling is based on the the FCX Clarity, the company's hydrogen-powered fuel cell car. It aims to sell 200,000 Insights a year and says the new hybrid powerhouse will be followed by a sporty hybrid based on the CR-Z concept car, a Jazz hybrid and a new Civic hybrid.
Citroen, however, is not making any production claims for its Hypnos, which looks like a one-off show car. It has a great looking crossover body and the French carmaker says “a powerful sensory experience awaits the driver and passenger, taking them into the realm of pure magic”.
The coupe body is packed with petrol-electric technology that is claimed to make the car quick and enjoyable, while returning better than 5 litres per 100km with carbon emissions of less than 120g/km of CO2.