11.3.2011 Toyota hybrid sales pass 3 million mark
It was not so long ago that hybrid cars were considered cutting edge technology, and it was still a novelty to actually see one on the roads.
Things have certainly moved on since the late 1990s when the first hybrids were launched, with several major manufacturers now offering hybrid models.
Toyota in particular has been and continue to be one of the leaders in this field, and have just announced worldwide cumulative hybrid sales of 3.03 million cars (up to February 2011).
Since the launch of the Toyota Coaster Hybrid EV and first-generation Prius in 1997, Toyota has successfully moved hybrid technology from an automotive niche to one of the key vehicle technologies of the twentty-first century.
In the UK, Prius sales that began in October 2000 have now reached more than 73,000. Today British customers can choose from six Toyota and Lexus hybrids, including the British-built Toyota Auris and the new Lexus CT 200h, the first full hybrid in the luxury compact segment.
As of the end of February this year, Toyota calculates that its hybrid sales have led to approximately 18 million fewer tonnes of CO2 emissions than would have been produced by petrol-powered vehicles of comparable size and performance.
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.
Other manufacturers have also turned to hybridization. Honda have release a number of competitive models, including the Honda Civic, Honda Insight, and sporty Honda CR-Z. The new Honda Jazz hybrid has also just been launched in the UK.
To date hybrids have been confined to petrol (spark-ignition) engines, largely for technical reasons. However, this is about to change with the launch of the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4, the world's first full diesel hybrid which will be available in the UK in November this year.
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