Toyota Prius sales hit 1 million worldwide

A Prius with the new Hybrid engine is seen at the fair stand of Japanese car manufacturer Toyota at the international car show IAA in Frankfurt September 11, 2007. REUTERS/Alex Grimm (GERMANY)

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota said on Thursday that cumulative sales of its Prius hybrid car had topped 1 million units worldwide since its launch just over a decade ago.

The Prius, the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car, first went on sale in Japan in late 1997 and in other markets in 2000. Toyota remains the leader in hybrid sales, with Honda a distant second with its Civic model.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, said it had sold about 1,028,000 Prius cars as of the end of April.

“Toyota believes that Prius vehicles worldwide have contributed to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by producing approximately 4.5 million tonnes less CO2 when compared with gasoline-powered vehicles in the same class and of similar size and driving performance,” it said in a statement.

Toyota remodelled the Prius with an improved hybrid system in 2003 and is widely expected to launch a third-generation version by next year.

By slashing production costs for the hybrid system, Toyota has said it would make the technology available across its line-up, with an aim to sell at least 1 million hybrid vehicles annually soon after 2010.

Last year, Toyota sold about 429,400 hybrid vehicles globally, up 37 percent from 2006. That accounted for less than 5 percent of its total vehicle sales.