Toyota hybrid sales pass 5 million mark

TOKYO Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:04am EDT

A logo of a Toyota Prius car is pictured at an exhibition stand of the 'International CAR Symposium' in Bochum January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

A logo of a Toyota Prius car is pictured at an exhibition stand of the 'International CAR Symposium' in Bochum January 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Ina Fassbender

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp has sold more than 5 million gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles as of the end of March since they first went on sale in 1997, the automaker said on Wednesday.

Its Prius series accounted for about 70 percent of that, making it the most popular hybrid model in the automotive industry.

Globally, Toyota sold 1.2 million hybrid vehicles in 2012, the first time it sold more than 1 million hybrids in a single year.

Helped by government subsidies and tax incentives, about 17 percent of the vehicles sold in Japan in 2012 were hybrids. Toyota and Lexus, its luxury brand, sold 678,000 hybrids, accounting for three-quarters of the total hybrids sold.

In the United States, Toyota sold about 327,000 hybrids. Hybrid accounted for roughly 3 percent of the total sales, with two of every three hybrids sold being a Toyota or Lexus.

Toyota sold just 17,300 hybrids in China, the world's biggest auto market, in 2012, accounting for about 2 percent of its total sales there.

Hybrids are still not as popular in some major markets such as Europe, where diesel engines remain strong. They still lag in emerging markets, where hybrid vehicle prices are expensive because they are imported or assembled locally but using mostly imported parts.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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