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Toyota Prius hits sales milestone

2008-05-15 08:32
Tokyo - Worldwide sales of Toyota's Prius petrol-electric hybrid have topped one million vehicles for the first time, the Japanese manufacturer says.

Toyota Motor Corp sold 1.028 million Prius cars as of the end of April, it said.

The Prius first went on sale in Japan in 1997 as the world's first commercially mass-produced gas-electric hybrid.

It has been a big hit with drivers around the world and is now sold in 40 countries and regions, according to Toyota. Its popularity is rising amid surging fuel prices and growing concerns about the environment.

Toyota sells other hybrid models, but the Prius has been the most popular model by far. Toyota has said it plans to sell a million hybrids annually sometime in the few years after 2010.

Toyota said introduction of the Prius has resulted in 4.5 million metric tons less of global warming gases compared with having standard petrol engine cars on the road instead of the hybrid.

Of the more than one million Prius sales worldwide, nearly 592 000 were sold in North America and 315 000 were sold in Japan, Toyota said.

A hybrid delivers a cleaner, more efficient ride by switching between a gas engine and an electric motor at different speeds, and by recycling the energy the car produces as it moves.

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