TOYOTA CITY, Japan—One of Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada’s favourite anecdotes is how for 49 days his team couldn’t get the first Prius prototype to move.
“We had no idea what was wrong, so we worked late every night trying to figure it out. We finally got it to move around Christmas time, but it only went 500 meters!” he said.
Moving hybrids has long since ceased to be an issue, however, both in the lab and off the lot. After 20 years of research and development and sales, Toyota has now sold over 8 million hybrid vehicles, including 1 million in the last 10 months alone.
For the environment, Toyota says this achievement amounts to approximately 58 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions than would have been emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance. Toyota also estimates that its hybrid vehicles have saved approximately 22 million kiloliters of gasoline compared to the amount used by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar sizes.
“The message is clear: having found homes in driveways around the world, hybrids have staying power,” Toyota said.
Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota has been gradually adding hybrid models throughout its range, from the compact Yaris Hybrid to the recently announced RAV4 Hybrid. As of this month, Toyota sells 30 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in more than 90 markets. The company said the ongoing roll-out will only continue, with new hybrid models being added to Toyota’s range and sold in more markets than ever before.
“Hybrid technologies, which encompass all of the component technologies necessary for the development of environment-friendly cars and which facilitate the use of different fuel combinations, are positioned by Toyota as core environmental technologies for the twenty-first century,” the company said. “Using these technologies, Toyota is also working on improving non-hybrid cars. Across the board, Toyota aims to enhance performance, reduce costs, and expand its product lineup―including that of non-hybrid vehicles.