Carmakers are trying to outdo each other for greenness at the Geneva Motor Show. Toyota is showing more developments of the combination of electric motors and a standard internal combustion engine. DaimlerChrysler is unveiling a low-emission, fuel-efficient diesel engine of the same sort that has been developed for VW’s BlueMotion Passat.

The head of Volkswagen France, Daniel Coppens, said that will be the industry standard: “In the future, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to buy an engine which does pollute, so people will spend more money on a little more comfort, on how the vehicle’s interior is fitted out.”

Throughout the region 15.4 million car were sold last year, up 0.7%. Among the biggest manufacturers, Fiat increased sales by 16.9%. Toyota by 9.7%. Volkwagen’s gain was 5.3% but Renault saw an 11%. The huge variety of new models on display at Geneva demonstrates how carmakers are having to try to keep up with a market that is fracturing into niches. As a result they need to offer vehicles of all shapes and sizes, while still having big enough production runs to keep costs low in a very competitive market.

Analysts said there are too many manufacturers in Europe turning out excessive product and something has to give. The prediction is that in the medium to long term the industry will to fail to raise profit margins and – out of desperation – will then turn to mergers and acquisitions.