As of April 30, Lexus and Toyota full hybrid automobiles exceed the 4 million mark in terms of total worldwide sales. Specifically, cumulative full hybrid car sales in the European region reached 423,000 units. Of this sales figure, 94,000 were achieved in the United Kingdom market. Toyota became leader in developing hybrid automobiles as a response to environmental issues as it sees low emission units can only have a positive impact if used widely.
In December 1997, the Toyota Prius was introduced to the Japanese market. This model is popularly considered as the first mass-produced hybrid passenger automobile in the world. However, the first hybrid vehicle was actually the Toyota Coaster Hybrid EV -- a bus launched in Japan in August 1997. In 2000, the Prius became available for sale in North America and Europe, among other markets.
In 2003, the second-generation Toyota Prius was introduced. At this time, the automaker expanded the utilization of its full hybrid technology to vehicles like SUV's, minivans, family hatchbacks and luxury saloons.
In May 2009, the third-generation Prius was introduced. It became popular worldwide, enabling Toyota to top its global cumulative sales of hybrid automobiles to 3 million units by the end of February 2011. While the hybrid range of Toyota expanded, localized production also arose, including the UK-manufactured Toyota Auris Hybrid as well as the forthcoming Toyota Yaris Hybrid to be built in France.
Later in 2012, the hybrid lineup will attract a wider market range with the introduction of the seven-seater Prius+ and Prius Plug-in Hybrid. Currently, Toyota sells 19 full hybrid passenger automobile models in around 80 countries.
This year, hybrid automobiles have comprised 15% of the global car sales of Toyota. The automaker forecasts its full hybrid autos to have led to a saving of about 26 million tonnes1 in carbon dioxide emissions compared to what would have been emitted by diesel-powered or petrol-run cars of similar driving performance and size.