We take hybrid vehicles for granted right now, but when Toyota decided to build the first Prius prototype it learned it wasn’t an easy job.
Back in 1995 hybrid cars were unproven, experimental machines with a very unclear future. For example, did you know that the team of engineers couldn’t get the first Prius prototype to move for 49 days?
According to Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, “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!”
Fast-forward twenty years, and Toyota has announced that it has now sold over 8 million hybrid vehicles (including plug-in models), just 10 months after the last million-unit milestone was achieved and 20 months after the 6-millionth unit.
Toyota claims the 8 million vehicles it sold so far have contributed as of July 31 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.
Since the launch of the first Prius in 1997, Toyota has been gradually expanding its lineup of hybrid vehicles, from the compact Yaris Hybrid to the recently announced RAV4 Hybrid. Toyota currently sells 30 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in more than 90 markets.
Over the past 12 months, Toyota has launched several new hybrid models, including the Esquire Hybrid (Japan only), the Lexus RC300h, and the recently launched Sienta Hybrid.