The Prius was launched in Japan in 1997 and began selling in Europe, North America and other markets in 2000. The second generation was released in 2003 and the third generation in 2009.
The third-generation Prius employs the Toyota Hybrid System II (THS II) with a motor speed reduction device. More than 90% of the THS II was redesigned for the third generation, which boasts a world-leading2 fuel efficiency of 38.0 km/L3 and driving performance on a par with that offered by a vehicle with a 2.4-liter conventional engine. Reflecting its name derived from "to go before" in Latin, the Prius, with four selectable driving modes and available advanced features such as a solar powered ventilation system, represents a pioneering, innovative step forward.
Based on sales figures collected up to September 30, 2010, TMC believes that the Prius worldwide has contributed to a reduction in CO2 emissions4 by producing approximately 11 million tons less CO2 when compared with gasoline-powered vehicles in the same class and of similar size and driving performance.
As part of its high-priority environment-management policies, Toyota has made a concerted effort to promote and popularize hybrid technology, chiefly through the Prius.