With gas prices skyrocketing across the U.S. as well as abroad, is it any wonder that worldwide sales of the Toyota Prius have passed the 1 million mark? Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) recently announced that it has sold approximately 1,028,000 of the gasoline/electric hybrid vehicle as of April 2008. Currently, Prius sales are robust in more than 40 countries and regions, particularly in Japan and North America.
Based on sales figures collected up to April 30, 2008, TMC believes that Prius vehicles worldwide have contributed to a reduction in CO2 emissions (considered a cause of global warming) by producing approximately 4.5 million tons 2 less CO2 when compared with gasoline-powered vehicles in the same class and of similar size and driving performance.
The Prius was launched in Japan in 1997 and began selling in Europe, North America and other markets in 2000. In 2005, Toyota began first overseas production of the Prius in Changchun, China, and sales of Prius vehicles in South Korea are expected to begin in the latter half of 2009.
In 2003, the second-generation Prius, equipped with the Toyota Hybrid System II, was introduced with improved environmental performance and power. In August 2007, Prius G, S and S "Standard Package" Japan models achieved a fuel efficiency of 29.6km/l in the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport's newly introduced JC08 test cycle. (The Prius S and S "Standard Package" models achieved 35.5km/l in the older 10-15 test cycle.) The Prius is also one of the first vehicles to meet the new 2015 Japanese fuel efficiency standards set out under the Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy.
As part of its high-priority environment-management policies, Toyota has made a concerted effort to promote and popularize hybrid technology, chiefly through the Prius. And as hybrid technology can be applied to a wide range of vehicles, Toyota aims to sell 1 million or more hybrid vehicles annually as early as possible in the 2010s.