The Toyota Prius has been around for a long time — well, since 1997. When Toyota introduced the Prius it became the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle. Since its inception in 1997, Toyota has created several generations of the hybrid — while improving on its technology, reducing its cost, and improving on the EPA-estimated ratings for each generation.
Basically, the Toyota Prius started the hybrid revolution, leading the way for other car manufacturers to design their own line of hybrids and grab a piece of the hybrid market pie. Now, a decade later, almost all of the car manufacturers have some type of hybrid model added to their product line.
Even though almost all of the automakers have their own line of hybrids now, sales of the ionic Prius have been excellent. In March 2012, it was announced that the Toyota Prius had reached #3 in world auto sales , and in a recent press release, Toyota announced that the Prius hybrid had hit the three million mark in worldwide sales (on February 28, according to the company). What’s interesting is that it took almost 10 years to sell the first million, and for the second million it took 27 months, then for the third million it only took 18 months. See a trend for hybrid sales here?
Toyota has been pretty aggressive in reducing its impact on the environment . It claims it has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 18 million tons from its line of hybrids. Toyota also has plans to sink almost $8 billion in the coming years into a new research and development facility that will be used for environmental technology development.Toyota is planning to expand on its powertrain development and construct a new production engineering building. There are also plans to develop a new aerodynamics laboratory (capable of producing winds of 250 km/h) located in the Honsha Technical Center.
Toyota has applied for 1,261 patents that relate to the third-generation Prius model, which shows that Toyota is planning to expand the cutting-edge technology in this environment-friendly vehicle. With emphasis on the development and production of core components such as motors, inverters, batteries, and electronic control units (ECUs), it looks like Toyota is also now planning for its fourth-generation of the Prius.