Toyota Motor Corp. said on March 8 said that sales of a key pillar of its earnings, hybrid vehicles, hit the three million mark. Since the Coaster Hybrid EV and the original Prius hit the market in 1997, Toyota had sold 3.03 million hybrid vehicles worldwide by the end of February.
"With global cumulative sales of its hybrid vehicles passing the three-million mark, TMC believes that such vehicles are starting to enter the mainstream," it said.
Toyota currently sells 16 hybrid models in about 80 countries and regions around the world. The segment has become the main driver of the company's sales, with the Prius becoming Japan's most popular vehicle in recent years.
The company estimated that its hybrid vehicles have led to some 18 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The world's biggest automaker brought the electric-petrol Prius to North America, Europe and other major markets in 2000 and it has effectively dominated the category of environmentally friendly vehicles ever since. Toyota's tally of hybrid vehicles reached two million in August 2009, soon after it released the third edition of the Prius in May 2009.
The company said it planned to introduce 10 new hybrid models by the end of 2012.
However, analysts expect it to face stiffer competition from rivals such as Nissan and Mitsubishi that have focused on all-electric vehicles.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011
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