U.S. sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid have surpassed the one-million mark, marking a milestone for the vehicle that had once been only an experiment initiated by environmentalists. Sales of the Prius were helped by the high prices of gasoline that now edges towards $4 per gallon.
The Prius, which is equipped with a gasoline engine and an electric motor, boasts a fuel efficiency rating of about 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway. The Environmental Protection Agency named the Prius as the most fuel-efficient car in the U.S. (second only to electric vehicles).
In a statement, Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager in the U.S., said that Prius had “paved the way” for the arrival of more hybrids. Toyota started to sell the Prius 11 years ago.
Back then, prices were low and only the seriously environmental-conscious people bought the model.
Then gasoline prices started to rise and the Prius became more popular. Autodata Corp. said that Toyota sold almost 43,000 units in the first quarter of 2011 -- higher than the first quarter of 2010 by 52%.
Toyota sold over 140,000 Priuses in 2010. Last year, global sales of the Prius exceeded 2 million. Toyota also announced that total global hybrid vehicle sales surpassed the 3 million mark sometime in March.
Carter said that Prius has turned into a synonym for the word hybrid. So far, Prius sales make up more than 60% of hybrid passenger car sales.