2000 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
Late last month, Toyota announced that it had delivered its 3-millionth hybrid-electric vehicle, with 3.03 million sold as of February 28.
Of that total, almost 2.2 million were the company's dedicated hybrid Prius model, now in its third generation.
The 1997 Toyota Prius four-door sedan was one of the world's two first hybrid-electric vehicles. For its first three years, it was sold only in Japan, after which a revised model was launched in the U.S. market for 2000.
With the 2004 second-generation model, a larger hatchback that arrived just shortly before a runup in gasoline prices, the Prius became not only a way to save money on fuel but a style statement.
2011 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
The 2010 Prius, the third generation, was launched early in 2009 and has continued the upward momentum. Its combined EPA gas mileage rating has reached the magic 50 mpg mark.
Toyota has frequently said that it will offer a hybrid model of every car it sells, and the company continues to roll out hybrids under both its Toyota and Lexus brands (though none, as yet, for Scion, whose 2011 iQ minicar was recently delayed until this summer).
Ask the public about hybrids, and the name you get back is likely to be "Toyota". Fourteen years on, it retains more than half the global market for hybrids, despite Honda, Ford, and many other manufacturers offering their own hybrid models.
While it took Toyota 10 years to sell its millionth hybrid in May 2007, it needed only 18 months to raise the total from 2,000,000, which it reached in August 2009, to the current 3,000,000--and counting.
2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011Enlarge Photo
In other green vehicle production news, Chevrolet said it had produced its 2,000th 2011 Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle on Tuesday, March 8.
Many analysts have suggested that adoption of plug-in vehicles (like the Volt and Nissan's 2011 Leaf battery electric car) will follow roughly the same schedule as hybrids have.
Two million, nine hundred and ninety-eight thousand to go ...
[Toyota via AutoObserver]