The Toyota Prius has come in for a fair degree of criticism from some quarters over the years, yet over three million people have now bought the company’s hybrid vehicles.
Since the launch of the Toyota Coaster Hybrid EV in Japan in August 1997 and the introduction of the first-generation Prius – the world’s first mass-produced hybrid – in December the same year, Toyota has moved hybrid technology from automotive niche towards the mainstream, an achievement demonstrated by an acceleration in sales that has seen more than a million new hybrids being added to the sales total since August 2009.
In the UK hybrid sales began with Prius in October 2000 and have reached more than 73,000. Today British customers can choose from six Toyota and Lexus hybrids, including the British-built Auris and the new Lexus CT 200h, the first full hybrid in the luxury compact segment.
Around the world Toyota currently offers 16 hybrids in around 80 countries, including MPVs, saloons, hatchbacks and SUVs, plus three commercial vehicles in Japan.
The rate of growth is expected to quicken further, as Toyota prepares for the introduction of 10 new hybrids in world markets by the end of 2012, including six new vehicles and four redesigned models. The company is committed to building this line-up further and also expanding the number of world markets in which its hybrids are available.
As of the end of February this year, Toyota calculates that its hybrid sales have led to approximately 18 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions than would have been produced by petrol-powered vehicles of comparable size and performance.