Hybrid sales might have been slow to take off in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but there are no such concerns these days.

In the first half of 2014, Japanese automaker Toyota sold 665,740 hybrid vehicles globally--beating last year's record figure by a full four percent over the same period.

As Wards Auto reports, that number puts it far ahead of the hybrid sales runner-up Honda, which moved a still-respectable 158,696 units through June.

Toyota's biggest-seller was the Prius C, badged Aqua in Japan.

In the first six months of the year, almost 150,000 units found homes across the car's worldwide markets, followed by the regular Prius on 128,940 units.

The Prius V (known as the Prius+ and Prius Alpha in other markets) accounted for over 65,000 sales, while the Camry Hybrid followed on 37,590.

A full 55.7 percent of global Toyota Hybrid sales were in Japan, showing just how important hybrid vehicles now are in the firm's home market. As we found out last year, many more Toyota hybrid models are available worldwide than are sold in the U.S.

Honda's figure is actually over double that of its 2013 sales over the January-June period, mostly thanks to a new model blitz in Japan. Like Toyota, Honda has a huge lineup of hybrid vehicles in its home country that don't see the light of day in any other market.

Almost 38,000 of the maker's hybrid sales were thanks to the Vezel--the Fit-based crossover coming to the U.S. in non-hybrid form, badged HR-V.

Honda Vezel (Japanese version)

Honda Vezel (Japanese version)

The Fit Hybrid accounted for most of Honda's hybrid sales though, at almost 75,000 units, but others included the Accord Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid, the fit-based Honda Freed and Spike hybrid minivans, the Fit Shuttle Hybrid wagon and the slow-selling Insight and CR-Z, each of which moved little over 4,000 units globally.

Subaru sold almost 13,000 XV Crosstrek Hybrids, Kia around 10,000 Optimas--25 percent down on 2013--and sales of Mazda's 3 Hybrid (known as Axela Hybrid in Japan) totaled 4,600.

13,000 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrids found homes in the first six months of the year, a full 7,500 of which were in Europe. Unfortunately, U.S. customers are still waiting for a solid on-sale date.

Nissan, Infiniti and Hyundai also made progress, while Toyota's luxury arm Lexus accounted for just over 11 percent of the maker's sales.

The figures do reveal how many all-electric Nissan Leafs were delivered from January to June--26,730 worldwide, slightly ahead of last year's tally.

The overriding message though? For hybrid vehicles, Toyota is still the automaker to beat--and it's a long, long climb for any manufacturer attempting to dethrone it.


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