Total combined Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicle sales in the US have topped the one million mark, according to Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA. Overall, cumulative worldwide sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrids have exceeded 1.7 million vehicles through January of this year.
Toyota plans to introduce 10 new hybrid models between now and 2012 in various global markets, with sales of one million gas-electric hybrids per year, worldwide, sometime early in the next decade.
Toyota launched of the Prius in late 1997 in the Japan market, and in the US in July 2000. The first-generation US Prius was a low-volume vehicle (12,000 produced annually). The second-generation Prius launched in the fall of 2003 as a 2004 model year. By 2005 Toyota was producing more than 100,000 vehicles annually for the US market.
With more than 107,000 sales in 2005, Prius became the third-best selling Toyota passenger car in the US after the Camry and Corolla. Some 700,000 Prius have been sold in the US since introduction, making up more than half of the 1.2 million Prius sold worldwide.
The successful launch of the Prius encouraged Toyota to expand 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 US.
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.
Spring 2009 will mark the launch of the third-generation Prius, followed by 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% while generating 27 more horsepower than its predecessor.
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.