Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada likes to tell the story of how his team couldn’t get the first Prius prototype to move for 49 days. According to him, “We had no idea what was wrong, so we worked late every night trying to figure it out. We finally got it to move around Christmas time, but it only went 500 meters!”
That was back in 1995, when hybrid cars were unproven, experimental machines with a very unclear future. Fast-forward 20 years, and Toyota is proud to announce that it has now sold over 8 million hybrid vehicles (including plug-in hybrid vehicles); and it only took them 10 months to get from 7 million to 8 million sales.
It can be hard to get a sense of what the number 8 million might mean for the environment and for hybrid owners. For a bit of context, Toyota calculates that as of July 31, its hybrid vehicles have resulted in approximately 58 million fewer tons of CO2 emissions than would have been emitted by petrol-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance. Toyota also estimates that its hybrid vehicles have saved approximately 22 million kiloliters of petrol compared to the amount used by petrol-powered vehicles of similar sizes.
While I’ve encountered many motorists who are still skeptical about hybrids, it goes without saying that hybrids are here to stay, whether you like it or not. Since the launch of the Prius in 1997, Toyota has been gradually adding hybrid models throughout its range, from the compact Yaris Hybrid to the recently announced RAV4 Hybrid. As of August 2015, Toyota sells 30 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid model in more than 90 markets, including Malaysia.
The company said that this ongoing hybrid roll-out will only continue, with new hybrid models being added to Toyota’s range and sold in more markets than ever before.