Prius success prompts new Toyota hybrids

Toyota is all set to increase its range of hybrid cars following on from the huge success of the Prius.

The car maker is planning to introduce 18 new hybrids and a fuel cell vehicle within the next two years.

Since 1997 more than five million Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles have been sold around the world, with the Prius establishing itself as one of the best selling cars of its type on the market.

Toyota Motor Corporation vice-chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada says the Prius has turned out to be a groundbreaking model.

"The launch of the first-generation Prius had effects beyond our expectations, with the vehicle increasing consumer environmental awareness and raising hybrid vehicle expectations," he said.

Consumers' understanding of the vehicle and its technology laid the ground for the "widespread adoption" since then, he added.

Europe's first full hybrid family estate car will arrive in the UK this summer in the shape of the British-built Auris Touring Sports Hybrid, around the same time that the new Lexus IS 300h executive sports saloon is also rolled out.

The releases will notably extend the car maker's market reach, which ranges from the Yaris Hybrid supermini right up to the Lexus LS 600h limousine.

Almost 100,000 Toyota and Lexus hybrids have been sold in the UK since the arrival of the first-generation Prius in 2000.

The total sales figure for Europe up until the end of March this year is 544,184 cars, which amounts to over 10% of the global total.

Figures for the continent also reveal the acceleration in hybrid sales, as it took seven years for the first 100,000 to be sold whereas the figure for 2012 alone is over 109,000.

There has been an 82% year-on-year increase in European sales in the first quarter of this year.

Toyota is keen to point out the car finance benefits of hybrid ownership, with customers in the UK and elsewhere in Europe enjoying tax benefits and reduced ownership costs compared to ownership of traditional cars.

According to Toyota's own data, its hybrid vehicles have contributed to around 34 million tonnes less CO2 entering the atmosphere compared to the impact of the same number of petrol-powered vehicles of similar size and performance.

The company estimates as a result that 1.2 billion litres of petrol have been saved.

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