Automaker Emphasizes Its Investment in Hybrid Drivelines
Sales of the Toyota Prius now exceed 3 million cars. “As of the end of June, worldwide cumulative sales of the iconic Prius gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle passed the 3-million mark,” Toyota said Thursday. updated July 8
Toyota launched the Prius in Japan in 1997 “as the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger car.” Toyota launched the Prius in Japan in 1997 “as the world’s first mass-produced hybrid passenger car.” Approximately 123,000 first-generation Prius cars were sold, more than half of them in Japan (52,000 in North America). A second generation Prius followed in 2003, and the third generation in 2009.
The third generation car accounts for 1,688,000 of the grand total of 3,002,000 Prius cars sold through May, Toyota says. Of the grand total of just over 3 million, 1,325,000 were sold in Japan, 1,335,000 were sold in North America, and 262,000 were sold in Europe.
Since the first-generation Prius hit the market, Toyota says, it reduced the cost of the hybrid drivetrain by two-thirds, while improving the car’s U.S. EPA-estimated ratings for combined driving by nearly 22%. “In addition,” the company says, it “applied for 1,261 patents relating to the third-generation Prius.”
Toyota says that since the development of the first-generation Prius, it “has positioned hybrid technology as a core technology required for the development of various types of environment-friendly vehicles and has placed emphasis on the development and production of core components such as motors, inverters, batteries and electronic control units (ECUs), giving rise to substantial investment in Japan.”
Designed in Japan
Toyota says it will “continue to conduct R&D and invest in facilities in Japan for the development of hybrid and other cutting-edge technologies and achieve sustainable growth by deploying these Japan-developed technologies across the globe.”
The firm said that for the fiscal year ending in March 2014, it will spend a consolidated 890 billion yen (nearly $8.8 billion U.S. at current rates of exchange) on environmental technology development, “as well as on strengthening new platform and major component development.”
Toyota plans a new R&D facility and a 12-story, 1.07-million-square-foot powertrain development and production engineering building in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Toyota is also expanding battery production by Primearth EV Energy (formerly Panasonic EV) at its Omori Plant in Kosai City, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Why “Prius?” The name is derived from a Latin word meaning “to go before,” the automaker says.
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Source: Toyota with Fleets & Fuels follow-up