Toyota launched the Prius, the world's first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, in Japan in 1997 and began selling it in Europe and elsewhere in 2000. The second-generation Prius, equipped with the Toyota Hybrid System II, was introduced in 2003 with an emphasis on delivering both environmental performance and power.
Toyota has expanded the use of its hybrid system to minivans, SUVs, rear-wheel drive saloons and other vehicles. Hybrid vehicles, under the Toyota and Lexus brands, have been enjoying good sales both in Japan and in over 40 countries and regions around the world, particularly North America.
Of the 1,047,000 units sold worldwide, 345,000 hybrids were sold in Japan and 702,000 were sold abroad. The Prius is the best selling hybrid vehicle, with 758,000 sold since its launch in 1997.
Toyota has calculated that as of 30 April 2007, worldwide sales of its hybrid vehicles since 1997 have greatly contributed to reductions in CO2 emissions, which are considered a cause of global warming, by producing approximately 3.5 million fewer tons of CO2 compared with the same class petrol engine vehicles of similar size and driving performance.
Toyota has positioned environmental responses as a priority management issue, and as such has made a concerted effort to popularize hybrid systems. It will actively continue to find ways to utilize the system's high degree of applicability to double its hybrid lineup and will aim to achieve annual sales of one million units in the early part of the 2010s.