New hybrid models from Toyota and Honda will go head to head in Europe this year.
Toyota will start European sales of the new Prius in July, a few months later than its market launch in North America and Japan. European sales of the Insight start in April.
The Insights 101 grams per kilometer CO2 emissions make it competitive against the best small diesels in Europe for emissions. But the cars No. 1 selling point will be its starting price, which is expected to be below 20,000, a Honda source said.
Our selling message will be that this is an affordable hybrid for everyone, said Christina Ra, spokeswoman for American Honda Motor.
The new Prius is expected to cost about the same as the current model, which starts at 25,150 in Germany. But the Prius keys are its low CO2 emissions and high-end features.
Industry sources said the third-generation Prius CO2 emission would be below the 99g/km emitted by its iQ minicar, which is being launched in Europe this month. The current Prius has CO2 emissions of 104g/km.
The new Prius also will offer sophisticated options such as a solar roof, self-parking and radar cruise control.
Toyota sold 41,495 Prius cars in Europe in 2008. Toyota Europe CEO Tadashi Arashima said that the carmaker had 50,000 orders from customers for the model last year.