Toyota recently announced it hit a milestone — selling its one-millionth hybrid vehicle. Of the one million hybrid sales worldwide, more than half have been sold in the United States — 541,210 units from 2000 through April 2007.
“The cost benefit of hybrids is becoming more apparent with climbing gas prices,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) executive vice president. “We anticipate combined sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrids of a quarter million units in the U.S. during calendar year 2007.”
Despite earlier concerns that decreased tax credits from the IRS would dampen hybrid demand, Toyota continues to post record hybrid sales. Calendar-year-to-date hybrid sales for TMS totaled 119,154 units, an increase of 75 percent over the same period last year.
In May, TMS posted sales of 36,101 hybrid vehicles, up 102 percent over last May. Toyota Division posted sales of 34,174 hybrids, up 121 percent over the same period last year. Lexus Division posted sales of 1,927 hybrids.
Aside from the gas-savings to hybrid owners, the significant reduction in tailpipe emissions, as well as the reduction in foreign oil dependence, has been a factor among many buyers who say they are concerned about the environment. According to a recent study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), hybrid vehicles have saved close to 215 million gallons, or 5.1 million barrels, of fuel in the U.S. since their introduction in 1999. As the market share leader in the hybrid segment, Toyota accounted for 66 percent of all hybrids sold in America during that period.
Additionally, Toyota has calculated that global sales of hybrid vehicles have greatly contributed to reductions in CO2 emissions. Since the introduction of Toyota’s first hybrid in 1997, approximately 3.5 million fewer tons of CO2 were emitted when comparing emissions from gas-powered vehicles to hybrids of the same class.
Also significant to buyers who may base their next purchase on environmental priorities are the results of recent lifecycle assessment studies of hybrid vehicles. A variety of studies, including one from the Argonne National Laboratory, have concluded that the total lifetime energy use of hybrid vehicles — from development, through production, through on-highway use, to end-of-life recycling and landfill — is significantly lower than conventional vehicles.