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Lexus RX 450h

Lexus HS 250h

Toyota Prius
An important green milestone comes for the company

Whether you love Toyota's hybrids or don't care for them, its hard to fault Toyota's strategy from a business standpoint.  Demand is at a record high and the manufacturer is making profit on-level with traditional sedan designs, thanks to various cost cuts.  And with August sales in the books, the automaker has announced that it has reached a significant milestone: selling its two-millionth hybrid vehicle.

Toyota was the first to create a mass-production hybrid, when it launched the Prius in 1997.  Since then it has seen strong demand for that vehicle as it has evolved over three generations.  Meanwhile, Toyota has fleshed out its hybrid offerings with Toyota Camry, Toyota Highlander, Lexus GS 450h, Lexus RX 450h, and LS 600h hybrids.  More hybrids from Toyota and Lexus are also in the works.

Later this year Toyota will launch the Lexus HS 250h, a new luxury hybrid vehicle.  The vehicle will join 13 hybrid vehicles currently in the company's lineup (though many of these are Japan-only models).  Toyota continues to advance on its plan to by 2020 launch a hybrid version of every vehicle in its lineup, as well as continuing to offer hybrid-only offerings like the Prius.

On May 31, 2007 Toyota topped one million hybrids sold.  Toyota estimates that since 1997 its hybrids have reduced CO2 emissions by 11 million tons (based on a comparison of fuel economy of sedans of similar size and class).

In the next decade, Toyota hopes to be selling 1 million hybrid vehicles a year.

Toyota does face growing competition in the market.  Rival Japanese automaker Nissan will be launching an pure electric vehicle, the Leaf EV in 2011.  Both Nissan and Honda are also expanding their hybrid lineups, with Honda's Insight posting modest sales, despite lukewarm reviews.  German automakers are also pushing ahead with clean diesel and hybrid offerings and the U.S. automakers all have growing hybrid lineups, as well plans for electric vehicles.

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Prius first?
By deputc26 on 9/7/2009 11:50:34 AM , Rating: 2
Insight arrived in america in 1996.

RE: Prius first?
By retrospooty on 9/7/2009 12:10:53 PM , Rating: 2
"Insight arrived in america in 1996."

The article said "Toyota was the first to create a mass-production hybrid" Which is true. The insight was never a mass production car until the re-release in 2010. The early insight's were all just limited production runs.

RE: Prius first?
By ersts on 9/7/2009 4:25:02 PM , Rating: 1
I think the reason for this confusion is that the Insight never sold well, while the Prius did. It wasn't until the 2nd gen that sales took off, while the Insight looks turned a lot away.

Today? I've seen 3 of the 3rd gen Prius already. Sad, really, when people pay around 4-5k more than its worth.

RE: Prius first?
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 9/8/2009 7:42:47 AM , Rating: 2
Kind of like what they did with the SUV's all those years - paid thousands more than they were worth, AND they were so unsafe. They were just reskinned trucks, so the profit margins were insane for the big 3. That is why they got addicted to selling them. Sad, really all around.

RE: Prius first?
By Spuke on 9/8/2009 12:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
while the Insight looks turned a lot away.
The original Insights TWO seats turned people off not its looks.

RE: Prius first?
By Brandon Hill on 9/7/2009 1:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
No, the Insight arrived in 1999.

RE: Prius first?
By foolsgambit11 on 9/7/2009 9:06:20 PM , Rating: 3
The Insight was launched in 1999. December of '99. The Prius launched in Japan in 1997, and came to the US for the 2001 model year. Mas produced or not, the Prius was out the door first, but for those of us in the US market, the Insight was the first available (although almost nobody bought one).

1 million sales a year is pretty ambitious, considering they sold 2 million over the past 12 years. I do expect adoption to increase, assuming there are no major battery issues, so people will feel more secure that there isn't a $10,000 'gotcha' in store for them. But if they're going to hit that milestone, in the face of increasing competition in the field, they'll have to get the price to a place where more of the developing world can afford one.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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