Toyota Sells One-Millionth Prius in U.S. – Best Hybrid Car

Toyota PriusBy John Addison (4/6/11)

One Million Toyota Prius hybrid cars have now been sold in U.S. Over 2 million Prii (yes, the plural of Prius) have been delivered globally. Over 3 million Toyota hybrids have been sold globally.

Since the Prius was introduced to the U.S. in 2000, more than 97 percent of all Toyota Prii sold are still on the road. At a time when our energy security is threatened and oil is over $100 per barrel, the Prius uses less than half the gasoline of typical cars. While other automakers worry about 2016 CAFÉ standards of 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg), the Prius delivers 50 mpg – that’s not just on freeways, that’s 50 mpg overall.

As California implements its Climate Solutions law, my region struggles with a plan to reduce transportation CO2 emissions by 15 percent by 2035. The average car in the region produces 430 grams CO2/mile. The Prius is only 178 grams CO2/mile. How tough can 15 percent be over 25 years?

Toyota and Lexus hybrid family

By the end of 2012, Toyota Motors will offer at least eleven Toyota and Lexus hybrid and electric cars. If you don’t like the looks of the Prius, you can order a Camry hybrid. If you need to seat seven, the Highlander is a versatile and roomy SUV. If you need an SUV with the best AWD mileage, the Lexus RX450h is the champion with 30 mpg in the snow and ice.

Lexus offers five premium cars for those who do not want to sacrifice leather, wood, and luxury inside. The Lexus CT200h is exciting to drive and delivers 42 mpg combined. Performance enthusiasts can get their own custom kit GS450h or LS600h hybrids.

Over 60 percent of all U.S. hybrid sales continue to be the Prius. Toyota’s Synergy hybrid drive system is so good that it is licensed by other automakers. The Ford Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ deliver around 40 mpg thanks to Toyota hybrid technology.

Prii Family from Compact to Crossover SUV

The best selling Prius has expanded into a family of four Prii models. Prius V, which goes on sale in third quarter of 2011.  If you’ve been looking for great mileage from an SUV, crossover, or wagon, take a look at the new Prius v. It will share the current generation Prius’ platform and Hybrid Synergy Drive technology.  Featuring a compact exterior yet spacious interior, the Prius v will feature over 50-percent more interior cargo space than the current Prius, while being almost as aerodynamic. The Prius v will compete with new crossover hybrids like the Ford C-MAX Hybrid. The Prius v will use NiMH batteries, just as the 2011 Prius.

The Prius V seats five with sliding second row seats allow for easier ingress and egress and rear-storage flexibility.  The 60/40 split, folding rear seats present four different seat arrangements that provide excellent usability for passengers and luggage, while a fold-flat front-passenger seat allows for extremely long cargo.

Despite the spaciousness of a family friendly midsize vehicle, the Prius v will deliver estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 42 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 40 mpg combined, the best fuel economy ratings of any SUV, crossover, or wagon on the yet EPA rated.

The Prius C will go on sale next year with the best mileage ever delivered, even outdoing today’s Prius. The “c” is a compact city car that will allow Prius drivers to secure precious parking spaces now secured by MiniCoopers, Fits, and the Yaris.

Plug-in Prius and New Toyota Pure Electric Cars

600 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids are now being driven daily in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. Commercial, government, and university fleets and individual drivers are putting this advanced Prius through its paces. Toyota is targeting 50,000 unit commercial sales in 2012 of this PHEV with a 14-mile electric range.

In the new Prius Plug-in with 5kWh of lithium batteries, you can drive 14 miles before the engine engages without special driving effort. When it leaves electric mode and engages the gasoline engine, it drives hundreds of miles with better mileage than a standard Prius.

The Prius Plug-in can be charged in 3 hours with a normal 110v outlet, which may be appealing to those who live in multi-tenant buildings with difficulties in installing 220 volt Level 2 chargers.

The Plug-in will be initially offered in 14 states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Virginia and New Hampshire) where nearly 60 percent of all Prius models are currently sold. Availability in all 50 states will be in 2013.

The RAV4 EV Powered by Tesla was Toyota’s center stage announcement here at the Los Angeles Auto Show. In 1997, 1,484 RAV4 EVs were sold. Remarkably half of these early EVs are still in use and their owners love them. Toyota, which owns 2 percent of Tesla, is bringing back this popular SUV in a stylish new body. It will have an electric range of 80 to 110 miles using 30 to 40 kWh of Panasonic battery cells integrated into a Tesla pack – impressive for an SUV. The body will be built by Toyota in Canada, the drive system by Tesla in California, and the final assembly site has yet to be determined.

In 2012, a stylish city car iQ-based EV will also be introduced in the U.S., Japan and Europe. Launch preparations call for road trials in Japan, U.S., and Europe starting in 2011. Launch in China is also being considered, with road trials planned for 2011.

An interviewer once asked me, “Why someone would buy a Prius when they could not cost justify the premium.” I explained that I did pay about $5,000 more for my 2002 Prius than a comparable sedan. My wife and I drove the Prius for 7 years, saving about $5,000 in gasoline. We then sold the car for about $4,000 more than a comparable sedan.

Since it was introduced in the U.S. in 2000, Prius, when compared to the average car, has saved American consumers more than an estimated 881 million gallons of gas, $2.19 billion in fuel costs, and 12.4 million tons of CO2 emissions.

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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

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