Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) this week announced that global cumulative sales of its full hybrid vehicles have topped the 4 million mark as of April 30. Cumulative sales of full hybrid vehicles in Europe reached 423,000 units.

Toyota Hybrid Sales

In response to environmental issues as a management priority and based on its belief that environment-friendly vehicles can only truly have a positive impact if they are used widely, TMC has endeavoured to promote the mass-market adoption of hybrid vehicles. In a South African context, Toyota remains the only local manufacturer to wholeheartedly promote the environmental cause by making a full range of hybrid vehicles available across the brands.

Looking at the hybrid historical timeline, Toyota launched the Coaster Hybrid EV in August 1997 in Japan, followed by the Toyota Prius – the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle – in December 1997. Sales of the Prius began in Europe, North America and elsewhere in 2000. The second generation Toyota Prius was launched in 2003 at which point TMC expanded the use of Toyota’s full hybrid technology to vehicles such as minivans, SUV’s, rear wheel-drive sedans and compact hatchbacks. In particular, the third-generation Prius launched in May 2009 received strong support from customers around the world, leading to global cumulative sales of TMC’s hybrid vehicles topping 3 million vehicles by the end of February 2011.

In Europe and South Africa, Toyota vehicles featuring the company’s full hybrid technology include the Toyota Prius, Toyota Auris Hybrid and upcoming Toyota Yaris Hybrid, the last two of which are produced at manufacturing facilities based in Europe. The Yaris Hybrid is set for local introduction in July. Later this year, Toyota will launch the Prius Plug-in Hybrid in Europe, however there are currently no plans currently to introduce this model onto the local market.

TMC remains committed to augmenting its product line-up even further and increasing the number of countries and regions in which it sells hybrid vehicles. TMC currently sells 18 full hybrid passenger vehicle models in approximately 80 countries and regions around the world. This year, hybrid vehicles have accounted for 15% of TMC’s global vehicle sales, while in Europe full hybrid vehicles account for 10% of sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

As of April 30, 2012, TMC calculated that TMC full hybrid vehicles (since 1997) have led to a saving of approximately 26 million tonnes in CO2 emissions – considered to be a cause of climate change – than would have been emitted by petrol-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance. The fuel savings, some 9 billion litres, is equivalent to the total annual petrol and diesel consumption of a country like Belgium in 2010.

Having positioned hybrid technologies – consisting of the component technologies necessary for development of various environment-friendly cars – as key technologies, TMC plans to continue working to further raise performance, reduce costs, and expand its product line-up, including that of non-hybrid environment-friendly vehicles, to create vehicles that are popular with consumers. Toyota Motor Europe plans to increase sales share of Toyota and Lexus full hybrid vehicles in 2012 to 14%.