In a time when some automakers have yet to introduce their first hybrid vehicles, the world's largest purveyor of these high-efficiency gas-electric cars and trucks just announced that it has now sold over two million of them worldwide. As of August 31, Toyota's global cumulative sales for passenger cars eclipsed the 2,014,200 mark -- plus an additional 2,700 commercial vehicles. As expected, the single largest seller in that lot has been the Prius. Now in its third generation, the popular five-door hatchback has accounted for about 1.43 million units -- roughly 70 percent -- of the 2.01 million total. Toyota's hybrid history began back in 1997, when it launched the Coaster Hybrid EV microbus into the domestic market in August and followed it with the Gen I Prius in December. In 2000, the original Prius went on sale here and slowly but surely began to win friends and influence people -- both inside and outside of the industry. In May of 2007, Toyota's hybrid sales total crossed the one-million threshold, and 27 months later, that number has doubled. According to its data, the increased fuel efficiency of these vehicles has resulted in a relative reduction of 11 million tons of CO2 emissions during the past 11 years.
Toyota currently sells 13 different hybrid models in some 50 countries and regions around the world, still spearheaded by the now-Gen III Prius, which was introduced in May. Looking ahead, its ambitious plans for both its Toyota and Lexus brands currently include increasing hybrid sales to one million annually by the early 2010s and having at least one hybrid model in every vehicle line it produces by the early 2020s.