Toyota’s hybrid car sales pass 5 million

Toyota’s hybrid car sales pass 5 million

TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Toyota’s hybrid car sales pass 5 million

A 2013 Toyota plug-in Hybrid car is seen plugged into a charging station at the Toyota display during a media preview in this file photo. REUTERS photo

Toyota’s global sales of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles have surpassed 5 million in a milestone for a technology that was initially greeted with skepticism.

The Japanese automaker, which said yesterday it had sold 5.125 million hybrid vehicles as of the end of March, started selling the Prius, the world’s

first mass produced hybrid passenger car, in 1997. Gas-electric hybrids deliver fuel efficiency by switching back and forth between a gasoline engine and electric motor depending on speed and other driving
conditions, and recharges as it travels.

“What an achievement for this technology to have grown this widespread,” said Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, known as “the father of the Prius” for having led the team that developed the hit model. “I believe there is a lot more room for this technology to grow,” he told reporters at Toyota’s Tokyo office yesterday.

Toyota’s hybrid vehicles now account for 14 percent of its global sales and 40 percent of its sales in Japan. Toyota Motor Corp. sells 19 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid, and is promising 18 new hybrids from now through December 2015.

Uchiyamada recalled that expectations had been low for the hybrid to catch on.

The hybrid has been so successful the only obstacle for Toyota may be that many rivals are in the game now.