Since producing the first Prius in 1997, we have sold more than eight million hybrid vehicles around the world, saving more than 58 million tonnes of CO2. Hybrid technology is the basis of all our alternative powertrains. Using our basic hybrid architecture and the know-how we have gained, we can develop battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and fuel cell vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel.

What is hybrid?

In the 21st century we have to find ways to make vehicles that are kinder to the environment and which reduce our dependence on oil-based fuels. We see hybrid as a core technology for achieving these goals, combining different energy sources in a single powertrain to obtain outstanding fuel efficiency with significantly lower emissions, at a price customers can afford. Since we introduced Prius, our first hybrid car, in 1997, we have continually improved our hybrid know-how.

Today our hybrids are not only more efficient than ever, with around a 10% improvement in fuel consumption with each generation, they also deliver stronger performance and are renowned for their hard-wearing quality, reliability and low running costs. To make the most of hybrid’s potential to reduce emissions, our aim is develop affordable technology that can be enjoyed by as many customers as possible. This is why we have increased our hybrid range from a single model – Prius – to more than 30 today. And the number continues to grow. By the early 2020s we will have hybrid models in every market segment.

THE ACHIEVEMENTS

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How does it work?

Our hybrid system uses a gasoline engine and an electric motor. It is a “full” hybrid, which means that the vehicle can be driven using its electric power alone, as well with the engine and electric motor working together. This makes it different from other “mild” hybrid systems, in which the electric motor only works to boost the performance of the petrol engine.

Electricity is generated as you drive the car, captured from the energy created when you brake or slow down. This power is then stored ready for use in the hybrid battery. A power control unit automatically determines the most efficient power source to use at any moment, whether you are in slow moving traffic or on the open road. In stop-start traffic, our full hybrid system switches to all-electric EV mode to maximise the benefit of driving with zero tailpipe emissions and zero fuel consumption. If battery power runs low, or you increase your speed, the hybrid engine automatically restarts.

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Our European models

Europe is a key market in our hybrid programme. Already one in every five cars we sell here is a hybrid. The strong market growth is supported by local production: the hybrid Yaris, Auris and Auris Touring Sports have been created specifically for Europe and are built at our factories in France and the UK.

The increasing popularity of our hybrid models reflects how customers now accept hybrid as a mainstream choice and appreciate the multiple advantages it offers as an alternative to conventional gasoline and diesel models. Half of all Auris models and one third of Yaris sold in Europe are hybrids. Together these European-built cars represent two in every three hybrids we sell in the region.

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The importance of local manufacturing

We have long recognised the value of manufacturing vehicles local to where are they sold. This is true, too, of our hybrid models, with production plants operating in a number of countries outside Japan. Our hybrid production facilities at Valenciennes in France and Burnaston and Deeside in the UK are two of our designated sustainable plants (link), which set global standards for environmentally efficient manufacturing.

This includes reducing demand on natural resources, recycling and eliminating waste, drawing energy from sustainable and renewable sources and working in harmony with the local environment and communities. By making hybrids locally, we further reduce their environmental impact by removing the need for long-distance shipping around the world. This helps us shrink our vehicles’ carbon footprint and supports our commitment to reducing emissions at every stage of a vehicle’s lifecycle.

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