Toyota sells its 15 millionth hybrid car

Published: 27 April 2020

► Toyota passes special milestone
► 15 million hybrid cars sold
► It's taken 23 years to sell 'em

Toyota has passed a special milestone this week: it's sold its 15 millionth hybrid car, proving its groundbreaking Prius launched back in 1997 was a seminal car indeed.

It's taken 23 years of selling Toyota hybrids around the world to meet the total - and most of those have been sold outside of Europe, which has accounted for nearly 3 million.

The UK has made up 356,000 hybrid sales; today, two thirds of all Toyota passenger cars sold here are petrol-electric models.

All our Toyota hybrid reviews

Where it all started: the original Toyota Prius of 1997

The Mk1 Prius was a dull-looking car that hid a clever technical breakthrough that survives to this day - juggling petrol and electric power seamlessly, to save fuel consumption and reduce emissions.

The Mk1 Toyota Prius: groundbreaking

It didn't come to Europe until 2000 (the X reg above denotes this is one of the earliest Priuses registered in the UK). It was an oddball car to drive - from the pulsating graphics on the screen to the unsteady weight distribution, which saw one CAR contributor driving up the motorway to have a 360-degree pirouette in a rainstorm during a lane change manoeuvre.

But Toyota steadily refined the recipe and stuck to its guns. Other manufacturers barely raced to catch up; some are only just launching their first hybrids now.

Toyota hybrids: saving CO2, boosting mpg, squashing particulate nasties

The company claims its hybrid cars have saved more than 120 million tonnes of CO2 from being pumped into the atmosphere.

CAR lived with the latest Prius hybrid and you can read our long-term test here.

Today, the Yaris hybrid has overtaken the Prius as Toyota's bestselling hybrid model in the UK. And most of the 40 new or updated models being launched between now and 2025 will be electrically assisted in some shape or other.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet