December 19, 2007 This month marks the 10th anniversary of Toyota's landmark Prius hybrid-vehicle. Since the launch of the first generation model in Japan on December 15, 1997, approximately 900,000 vehicles have been sold worldwide - a drop in the ocean relative to total vehicle sales, but still a significant number that points to the important role the car has played in raising the profile of hybrid technology and proof that the public are willing to pay a premium for the fuel consumption and eco-friendly benefits it offers.
Notable landmarks in the 10 year journey of the Prius include winning the International Engine of the Year award in 1999 and 2000, becoming the world’s first hybrid vehicle to finish an FIA-sanctioned rally in 2002 and setting a new land speed record for hybrid power vehicles by achieving 130.794mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in 2004. Market demand for the Prius also saw the opening of a new production centre in Changchun, China in 2005 and interestingly, sales have increased dramatically in the last 2 years since the figure not passing the half-million mark until mid-2006.
In 2007, the Prius maintained its status as the world’s cleanest family car according to Toyota, with carbon dioxide emissions of 104g/km, and has an official combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 65.7mpg.
With the Prius as its flagship, Toyota has expanded its hybrid model range to include SUVs, MPVs and luxury saloons in both its Toyota and Lexus ranges. An announcement earlier this year also hints at a future plug-in version of the Prius to make it a primarily electric-powered car that only uses petrol as a completely secondary option.