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TOYOTA HYBRID SALES
TOP 100,000

Total sales for company's three hybrid models nearly 103,000 units since December 1997 launch of Prius.

TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) just announced that global cumulative sales of Toyota hybrid vehicles have topped the 100,000 mark, with nearly 103,000* units sold by the end of March this year, representing a 90% share of the world hybrid vehicle market.

The road to this milestone largely began in December 1997, when Toyota marketed in Japan the gasoline/electric Prius passenger sedan, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. With more than 33,000 units sold by the end of 1999, the proven technology of the Prius debuted in the North American market in June 2000, soon followed by the start of sales in Europe in September that same year. The Prius is now sold in more than 20 countries.

Since the arrival of the Prius, TMC's hybrid vehicle lineup in Japan has grown to include the Estima Hybrid minivan, which came out in June 2001, and a mild hybrid version of the Crown luxury sedan, released the following August.

Through these products, TMC has always been at the forefront of advancing and introducing high-efficiency, low-emission hybrid systems. Key hybrid components in the Prius include an Atkinson cycle engine, a drive-power-supplying nickel-metal hydride battery and an electrically controlled transmission that serves as a continuously variable transmission. The Estima Hybrid's performance-enhancing electric 4WD and comprehensive four-wheel drive-and-braking control are world firsts for a mass-produced vehicle, and so is the Crown mild hybrid's practical application of a 42V electrical system.

TMC intends to continue actively developing hybrid systems, including those incorporating fuel cells.

Cumulative Toyota hybrid vehicle sales* (unit= one vehicle)

Period

Model

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002/
1?3

1997?
2002/3

Prius

323

17,653

15,243

19,011

29,459

7,402

89,091

Estima Hybrid

?

?

?

?

5,886

5,840

11,726

Crown w/ mild hybrid system

?

?

?

?

1,574

520

2,094

Coaster hybrid (bus)

9

3

12

15

9

8

56

Total by year/month

332

17,656

15,255

19,026

36,928

13,770

102,967

Cumulative total

332

17,988

33,243

52,269

89,197

102,967

TOYOTA AIMS TO HALVE COSTS

Hybrids, which unlike pure electric vehicles do not need to be plugged in to be recharged, are cleaner-burning and said to be roughly twice as fuel-efficient as traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

They are seen as a near-term solution to reducing the auto industry's burden on the environment before fuel-cell vehicles, which use hydrogen to produce electricity and emit only water, become mainstream in a few decades' time.

Honda Motor Co 7267.T is the only other automaker to mass-produce hybrid vehicles, selling the two-seater Insight and a hybrid version of the Civic. Its cumulative sales since November 1999 have so far totalled 12,846.

In contrast, Toyota's global cumulative sales have topped 100,000, accounting for 90 percent of the world's hybrid vehicle market. Some 37,000 vehicles were sold in 2001.

In addition to the Prius, now in its second generation, Toyota's line-up includes a hybrid version of its Estima minivan and a version of its luxury car Crown that uses a "mild" -- less efficient but less expensive -- hybrid system.

Toyota also says its hybrid vehicles are now profitable whereas Honda says it still makes a loss on its models.

Other major automakers such as General Motors Corp GM.N , Ford Motor Co F.N and DaimlerChrysler AG DCX.N DCXGn.DE have said they will launch hybrid vehicles in 2003 or 2004.

But they say production will be limited due to the relatively high costs and uncertainty about their popularity.

Their price tag -- the Estima hybrid sells for about 500,000 yen ($3,840) more than an ordinary three million yen Estima minivan -- remains a key issue.

Watanabe said, however, the premiums consumers pay for hybrids were on the way down.

"We are working on both improving the technology and cutting costs by half," he said, declining to comment on a timeline for the planned cost reductions.

But he added that working out what premium consumers should theoretically pay for the new technology was difficult.

Hybrid technology was rapidly changing and consumers were buying hybrids not just for their eco-friendliness, but also because they were attracted to other features such as the quietness and smooth acceleration of the cars, he said.

Written by: Toyota


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