Toyota the juggernaut of hybrids with 4.6 million sold

Toyota, focused mostly on a green car strategy that favors hybrids over electric cars, has without a doubt become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the hybrid world with vehicles like the Prius.

Recent figures unveiled by the Japanese automaker reinforce this, as globally sales of hybrids – since the first was launched in 1997 – have now topped a staggering 4.6 million, with 1.02 million selling so far this year alone as of the end of October. Currently, approximately 40 percent of Toyota’s sales in Japan and 14 percent of global sales are hybrid vehicles.

The last time we reported on Toyota’s global hybrid sales, which include plug-in hybrid models, was this past June. It was noted then over 4 million vehicles were in the hands of drivers around the world. The jump of over 600,000 since that time is a feat onto itself, especially when you consider that Toyota’s competitor Honda, as of late October, had only reached the 1 million mark themselves after 12 years and 11 months of offering hybrids to customers.

In terms of where hybrids sales for Toyota have played out, it noted that cumulative sales in Japan alone had reached 2.04 million units as of the end of October, which represents around 44 percent of hybrid sales for the automaker when you look at its global numbers. It definitely shows a real passion for the hybrid in that island nation, even to the point that the regular Prius was recently eclipsed by the its newer Aqua hybrid offering as the best selling car there. We know it better here as the Prius c.

And just in case you think it is just Japan where Toyota places these cars in huge numbers, consider this: thus far cumulative hybrid sales outside of there are north of 2.56 million. The company said there are currently 19 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid vehicle model available in approximately 80 countries and regions around the world, and that it plans to globally launch 20 new hybrid models by the end of 2015.

While it is great to know all of these numbers about global hybrid sales, what does it translate exactly into in terms of environmental benefits in the fight against global warming?

Toyota believes that since 1997 its growing number of hybrids on the road have reduced CO2 emissions “by approximately 30 million tons worldwide and approximately 9 million tons in Japan compared to the amount of emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance.” It has also cut down on fossil fuel use by an estimated 2.9 million gallons of gas, compared to the amount used by gasoline-powered vehicles of similar size.

In breaking down by model which specific Toyota hybrid is most popular for all time, there is no doubt the workhorse here is the primary Prius design. It has the longest history – first introduced in 1997 – and, as of the end of October, had cumulative global sales of over 2.8 million. This represents around 60 percent of all of this automaker’s hybrid sales.

Nino Marchetti, EarthTechling