TORRANCE, Calif., March 11, 2009 - - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc., announced today that total combined Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicle sales in the U.S. have topped the one million mark.
The milestone was achieved with an industry sales-leading six Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles including the Toyota Prius, the world’s first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid and the all-time worldwide leader in hybrid sales.
With the expansion of its hybrid technology to a diverse group of vehicles, Toyota has commanded nearly 75 percent of all hybrid vehicles sales in the U.S. over the past 10 years. Overall, cumulative worldwide sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrids have exceeded 1.7 million vehicles through January of this year.
“One million hybrids in less than nine years indicates how quickly American consumers have accepted this important technology,” said Jim Lentz, TMS president. “Toyota’s hybrid leadership will continue to expand in the U.S. and around the globe. With 10 new hybrid models between now and 2012 in various global markets, we plan to sell one million gas-electric hybrids per year, worldwide, sometime early in the next decade.”
Toyota pioneered modern gas-electric hybrid technology with the launch of the Prius in late 1997 in the Japan market. Its popularity in Japan encouraged the launch of Prius in the U.S. in July 2000. The first-generation U.S. Prius was a low-volume vehicle (12,000 produced annually) that gained an immediate following, particularly among environmentally conscious consumers.
The second-generation Prius launched in the fall of 2003 as a 2004 model year. With larger dimensions, all-new styling, and Toyota’s new Hybrid Synergy Drive technology, Prius became an instant hit. By 2005 Toyota was producing over 100,000 vehicles annually for the U.S. market. Prius had propelled itself from a niche environmental car into a mainstream vehicle for everyday driving needs. With more than 107,000 sales in 2005 Prius became the third-best selling Toyota passenger car in the U.S. after the Camry and Corolla.
From its humble beginnings in the summer of 2000 through February 2009 more than 700,000 Prius have been sold in the U.S., making up more than half of the 1.2 million Prius sold worldwide.
The successful launch of the Prius encouraged expansion of its hybrid technology to existing models in both the Toyota and Lexus lineups. In April 2005, Lexus introduced the crossover RX 400h, the world’s first hybrid-powered luxury vehicle. Two months later Toyota launched the Highlander Hybrid sport utility vehicle (SUV).
One year later in April 2006, the Lexus GS 450h made its debut as the world’s first front-engine, rear-wheel drive, full-hybrid performance sedan. April 2006 also marked the debut of the Camry Hybrid, becoming the first Toyota hybrid to be built in the U.S.
For the third consecutive year, Lexus further expanded its hybrid lineup in July 2007 with the launch of the LS 600h L luxury hybrid sedan, the world’s first vehicle to feature a full-hybrid V8 powertrain. July 2007 saw the arrival of the second-generation 2008 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV. The all-new Highlander Hybrid raised the bar once again in the mid-size SUV segment with a complete redesign that was improved, refined and expanded in nearly every metric of comparison.
Ongoing improvement to its hybrid technology continues in 2009 with the summer arrival of the second-generation 2010 Lexus RX 450h. The all-new RX Hybrid will feature an updated version of Lexus Hybrid Drive that will improve fuel economy by up to 20 percent while generating 27 more horsepower than its predecessor.
Spring 2009 will mark the launch of the all-new and vastly improved third-generation Prius. The 2010 Toyota Prius will once again set new standards for innovative hybrid design and technology, raising its level of convenience features and performance to new heights, including a combined EPA estimated fuel efficiency rating of 50 miles-per-gallon.
Finally, late summer of 2009 will see the launch of the 2010 Lexus HS 250h, the world’s first dedicated luxury hybrid vehicle. The HS 250h will be Lexus’ fourth hybrid and the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its lineup.
“For Toyota and Lexus, 2009 can easily be called ‘the year of the hybrid’ with three new offerings including our seventh hybrid model with the launch of the Lexus HS 250h,” said Lentz. “In addition to our growing hybrid presence over the next few years, expanded hybrid offerings from competitors will not only drive innovation and improvement for consumers, it will continue to help improve the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
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