Third-Generation Toyota Prius

Third-Generation Toyota Prius

Hybrid vehicles have been alternately portrayed as the saviours of modern transportation or the last gasp of the dying oil-based economy. Either way, Toyota has capitalized on their popularity with its world-beating Prius, even managing to sell more than 2.5 million hybrids worldwide--and at a faster rate than ever before.

So far this year Toyota’s hybrid sales are ticking over at 2,000 a day--one third higher than in 2009 when the automaker's hybrid sales topped one and a half million for the first time. The higher demand follows last year's release of the third-generation Prius and the recent introduction of the Hybrid Camry in other markets such as Australia and China.

The Prius by far remains the world's most popular gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle with 1.8 million sales, representing 70 percent of all Toyota hybrids. Next in line is the Camry Hybrid, which has managed a much more modest but still significant 200,000 sales since launch.

Emphasizing the importance of the automobile’s environmental impact and the role hybrids can play in reducing the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere, Toyota has also once again reiterated its plans to sell more than one million hybrids every year in the longer term, and hopefully offer a hybrid version of every model in its lineup by 2020.