Toyota's Cumulative European Hybrid Sales Pass 50,000-Unit Mark

Toyota Motor Europe (TME) marked an important milestone when cumulative European sales of both Toyota and Lexus brand hybrid vehicles passed the 50,000-unit mark. Combining a petrol engine with an electric motor, Toyota’s hybrid technology delivers the cleanest engine technology on the market today and impressive driving performance. Since sales of the Toyota Prius - the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car - began in Europe in 2000, a total of almost 41,000 units have been sold to date. Meanwhile, sales of the Lexus brand’s hybrid models (RX 400h and GS 450h) have reached a cumulative total of over 10,000 units in just 17 months of sales.

Toyota expects its annual European hybrid sales to reach 37,400 units in 2006, while overall sales are expected to exceed 1 million units for the Toyota brand and attain 45,000 units for the Lexus brand.

Speaking on this milestone, Thierry Dombreval, Executive Vice President, Toyota Motor Europe,
said: "Reaching 50,000 hybrid sales is a clear sign that Europeans have taken to this exciting new technology. Hybrid has already established itself as an advanced solution delivering both power and environmental performance. Toyota is committed to developing a range of cleaner technologies including hybrid, clean diesel and alternative fuels."

Hybrid Synergy Drive® (HSD) is the concept behind the new generation of hybrid vehicles from the Toyota brand. HSD combines driving pleasure and performance with fuel economy, low emissions and silent driving. The word "synergy" extends to the higher synergy between the petrol engine and electric motor to power the vehicle. The electric motor is now more powerful, allowing a higher ratio of electrical/petrol usage. The results are more performance with greatly improved efficiency.

The Lexus brand first introduced hybrid power trains with the RX 400h in May 2005. Since then, Lexus has gained more ground with its European hybrid strategy, both by launching the GS 450h in May 2006 and presenting the company’s forthcoming flagship, the LS 600h, in May 2007.

Hybrid technology is attracting customers to the Lexus brand who are looking for a realistic alternative to mainstream technology. In addition to the quietness, smoothness and refinement of hybrid power trains, Lexus customers appreciate the powerful and linear acceleration combined with segment-leading environmental performance. To reflect the importance of its hybrid strategy, Lexus has adopted a new brand name that will more clearly identify its advanced hybrid technology and philosophy: Lexus Hybrid Drive.

Global cumulative sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid - first commercialised in 1997 - passed the half-million unit milestone in April, reinforcing its position as the world’s best-selling hybrid model. Toyota currently has 11 different hybrid vehicles - including a world-first diesel-hybrid - in its global model line-up, and cumulative worldwide sales reached almost 635,000 units in April. Toyota has set itself the challenging target of reaching annual hybrid sales of 1 million units by the early 2010s.

Toyota considers hybrid to be a key technology in the development of the ultimate "eco-car" - a car with zero-emissions and 100% recyclable. Hybrid technology can be applied effectively to improve the efficiencies of a variety of power trains irrespective of the type of fuel used (gasoline, diesel, alternative fuels or fuel cell vehicles). Hybrids not only deliver lower emissions and reduced fuel consumption, but they are completely silent when operating electrically and deliver impressive driving performance.

The revolutionary breakthrough achieved by hybrid technology is the intelligent management of the energy flows from two different power sources so that each dimension of driving - acceleration, open road, braking and stop-and-go - is performed in an environmentally and mechanically optimal way.

This highly innovative solution consists of a petrol engine optimized for exhaust emissions, combined with a zero-emission electric motor matched to a nickel metal hydride electric battery pack to provide additional power. Both of these power sources work together under the supervision of an extremely sophisticated power management controller to deliver maximum overall driving efficiency.

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