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Toyota plans to sell 1 million hybrids per year this decade

The first mass production hybrid vehicle, the Prius, came from Toyota in the late 1990s. The Prius was soon joined by several other hybrid vehicles in the Japanese market including larger SUVs and vehicles aimed at commercial use. Today, Toyota offers hybrid vehicles from its luxury brand Lexus in the U.S. along with the Prius, Camry Hybrid, and Highlander Hybrid.

Toyota Motor Company (TMC) has announced that in Japan the sales of hybrid vehicles have topped the million unit mark. The Prius was also the best selling vehicle in Japan in 2009.

Globally, Toyota has sold over 2.68 million hybrid vehicles as of July 31, 2010. The company currently sells eight hybrid vehicles outside Japan with overseas sales for TMC at 1.68 million units. According to Toyota, its hybrid vehicles have resulted in some significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions. TMC figures that since 1997, its hybrids have resulted in four million less tons of CO2 emissions in Japan alone and 15 million fewer tons of CO2 produced globally.

Toyota has bigger plans still for its hybrid vehicle sales. The company plans to sell a million hybrid vehicles per year during this decade and add hybrid models to every vehicle in its line as early as 2020. Toyota's iconic Prius hybrid was launched in 1997. More recently, Toyota and electric vehicle maker Tesla have worked together on a new plant and the development of hybrid and full-electric vehicles.

There were also reports in May that a minivan using Prius hybrid technology would be coming next spring.

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By khadafito on 8/9/2010 10:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
Four ways the Prius saves gas:
1) It is incredibly aerodynamic. It has one of the lowest drag coefficients of any mass-produced car (almost the same coefficient as the sportsy-lookin Telsa Roadster). This is obviously not related to being a hybrid, but it helps a lot.
2) The car has regenerative breaking. When you break, the electric motor becomes a generator that converts part of the kinetic energy into electricity that charges the battery. Then you use that recovered energy when the battery discharges by running the electric motor, which means less gas consumption. In a regular car, every time you break you waste all the kinetic energy.
3) When the car stops, the gas engine stops. In stop and go traffic you are only consuming gas when the car is moving. A regular car would be consuming gas all the time, including on an idling engine by just sitting still at a red light or on a traffic jam. When the Prius starts moving again, if you don't push the throttle too much, the car will move on purely electric power until you hit a certain speed (using, in part, the power stored in the battery from the regenerative breaking). Then the gas engine comes on.
4) A very sophisticated system of gears connecting two electric motors and the gas engine (and controlled by a computer) keeps the RPMs of the gas engine at it's most efficient spot (where it consumes the least gas) for a wide range of car speeds. Essentially, the computer is constantly adjusting the fraction of power delivered by the gas engine to keep gas consumption to a minimum. In a regular car, most of the time the gas engine is running at RPM levels where it's highly inefficient.

By the way, when you are comparing gas and hybrid or electric cars, keep in mind that the internal combustion engine, especially a regular gas one (Otto cycle), is horribly inefficient (Diesel cycle is better). In any regular car, at most 25 to 30% of the energy in the gasoline actually gets converted into useful motion of the car. The rest is wasted as heat. An electric motor + battery power train is way more efficient than this, but the whole analysis would get too long for this post.

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