By on March 8, 2011

Toyota sold more than 3 million hybrids so far and thinks that they are slowly having an impact.

In August 1997, Toyota rolled out their “Coaster Hybrid EV” bus, followed by the Prius in December of the same year. 300 vehicles were sold in the first year. In 2010, Toyota sold 16 hybrid models in approximately 80 countries. Last year, Toyota moved 690,000 hybrids worldwide, 9 percent of Toyota’s worldwide output (ex Daihatsu and Hino). The 3 million mark was broken some time in February this year.

“Environment-considerate vehicles contribute only through their widespread use,” says Toyota in a press release, a subtle hint that a few green vehicles made for public consumption don’t make a difference. Only after selling 3 million hybrids, Toyota “believes that such vehicles are starting to enter the mainstream.”

TMC plans to introduce 10 new-model hybrid vehicles by the end of 2012, including six newly launched vehicles and 4 vehicles that have been redesigned.

After topping Japan’s best selling car list for 19 straight months, the Prius was unseated in January by Honda’s Fit. In February, the Prius took the top spot again, data by the Japan Automobile Dealer Association shows.

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27 Comments on “After 3 Million Hybrids, Toyota Thinks They Are Starting To Enter The Mainstream...”


  • avatar
    Dragophire

    Lets see mainstream. I live currently in a neighborhood with about 400 homes in it and I see about 10 hybrids. So I will say not yet. It will be mainstream when They place a hybrid engine in a vehicle that I would actually buy then I would say yes.  When they get at about 15percent of the market then yes.

  • avatar
    jeremie

    I would agree “that such vehicles are starting to enter the mainstream.” Key word here is starting. The population where I live is dominated by rednecks and the elderly, and I still see hybrids daily. I expect they are even more common in progressive or urban environments. You could debate the definition of “mainstream” all day, but I see hybrids as fairly common and becoming more so every day.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

     
    I live in East TN, and I see lots of hybrids here, given the population and demographics.   So I’d say they are fairly mainstream.   If something was making up 9% of Ford or GM sales, how could you not call it mainstream?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Hasn’t the Prius in the top-ten list for the last few years?  Up there with the Civic and Corolla?  That’s fairly mainstream.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Three million world wide would indicate indeed that the Toyota Hybrid is moving into mainstream status. I live in flyover country and you regularly see Prius’ (Priui? Prii?) in most cities. Used Toyota Hybrids are not over priced, nor are they ‘white elephants’ that dealers can’t sell.  Well done toyota.

  • avatar
    VespaFitz

    “My hillbilly neighborhood don’t have no hybrids, so it ain’t mainstream!”

    The Prius is the best-selling vehicle in Japan by about 50,000 units (as reported right here in January).

    Hybrid vehicles will sell amazingly well in places that capitalize on the benefits of hybrid vehicles. Countries with a lot of cities, terrible congestion and insane gas prices will adopt hybrid vehicles until a better solution comes along.

    No, they’re never going to sell well in Possum’s Taterhole, West Virginia. Neither will toothbrushes or deodorant, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not popular.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    “Environment-considerate vehicles?”

    The dubiousness of that term is very well-established, as the fabrication of a Hybrid Synergy Drive is an extremely complicated process that produces large amounts of CO2 emissions. It’s why nowhere on the Toyota website will they tell you how the damn thing is made. Not that anyone would care; an NYT poll indicated 57% buy a Prius for image; 36% for fuel efficiency.

    Couldn’t they have just said “Hybrid vehicles?” Or, perhaps more appropriate, “Snob-magnets?”

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      ” the fabrication of a Hybrid Synergy Drive is an extremely complicated process that produces large amounts of CO2 emissions”
      That’s true of virtually anything manufactured today.  The question is how much energy does it take to make a Prius compared to a comparable non-hybrid?  I don’t know the answer, if there have been any good studies on the subject I’d enjoy seeing one.

      It’s also worth noting that the energy used by a vehicle during its service life far exceeds that used in its production, so even if the Prius takes twice as much energy to produce it’s still saving energy in the long run.  Here’s one of them link things with facts and stuff:
      http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=433981
       
       
       

  • avatar
    jaje

    Why can’t we have trickle down benefits of hybrids for our normal gas engine powered cars?  Like start / stop systems with electrically run a/c or solar paneled roofs that vent hot air from the parked car.  Just putting these systems in our standard cars that make up 99% of cars on the road will make a greater reduction in our dependence on oil and reduced carbon footprint.
     
    The big elephant in the room that is frequently ignored is the increased costs and emissions created in making a hybrid vehicle as production requires global transport of materials from various stages creating significantly more green house emissions to make a hybrid – which my opinion is that passing up a Prius to buy as slightly less expensive Corolla would be better off in both money saved and emissions created as a total.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      It all comes down to what level of “environmental considerateness” a consumer is willing to settle for. Just as there are different levels of “-tarianism” from the occasional fish or chicken eater to full-on vegan who won’t eat or touch anything made from an animal.

      On one level, not driving anything is most considerate to the environment.

      On another level, driving a car made entirely of biodegradable, locally-sourced materials is more considerate than a Prius. Only such a car doesn’t exist.

      On another level, driving a used economy car with decent fuel economy and low emissions is more considerate than a Prius as well, because you’re driving an uncomplicated, basic vehicle that didn’t have to go around the world six times to be fully assembled.

      And then there’s the Prius itself, which is very fuel efficient and environmentally considerate – on the surface – but to convince oneself of really being “green”, one has to block out what it took to make that Prius out of your mind.

      I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong level to inhabit; I’m just saying that Prius owners who adopt a holier-than-thou attitude are either unwittingly or willfully ignoring a big piece of the picture, calling their true “greenness” into question.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      You all talk like a Prius is got uranium in it or something.  There are less moving parts than a regular car… the battery pack is around 100 lbs and readily recyclable.   I am sure give you a few minutes and you can drag up that fake study that says an H1 has less environmental impact.  LOL.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      @ philadlj: Thanks – quite insightful with useful information and opinion.

      @ LectroByte: So you must be the latter type of buyer who does not care what emissions were created to make the car in the first place (so long as it has a hybrid drivetrain in it…it must be good for the environment).  There’s a lot of other short sighted or blissfully ignorant folks around.  Like how F1 is pushing itself as an image of “green” image by bringing back the KERS system when 99% of the emissions F1 actually creates is from the transportation of its vehicles, parts, people across the globe for a wide spread 20 race season.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      Of course I care.   What “emissions” are you going on about? I think you are assuming there is a lot more involved with making batteries for the hybrids than there actually is. If the nickel hadn’t been used for making the NiMH battery pack, it probably would have gone into making chrome or something else. There’s a bounty on the battery pack because extracting the nickel back out of it is cheaper than mining more. I don’t see what you are getting at with your “emissions” comments at all.

      @philadlj: Six times around the world? What are you talking about? I think you are imagining something that doesn’t exist. Heck, think of all the brake pads and rotors from China I won’t be buying for my Prius, and all the energy to ship that Pontiac I was seeing in some other thread the other day back to China and having it melted down and turned into a new brake rotor. Talk about your six times around the world.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      The problem is we have one fact…the Prius gets better mpg than all conventionally powered cars sold on the market today (a fact that Toyota proudly pronounces and advertises it as the “greenest” car sold).  The buying public (which we have to admit) typically believes what they are told and never really learns about where their car comes from.  The good old Buy American even though the American car was made in another country.
       
      Yes there was the CNW market research article, which compared a Prius to that of an H3 that was quickly debunked as it used faulty logic and skewed results (very poorly done study funded by special interests).  However Toyota has never released (upon multiple requests by environmental organizations and news media) details about the manufacturing costs and emissions released in production of the Prius.  Toyota simply states that the increased fuel economy will make up for it but without giving any solid time line nor a comparison to what vehicle it should replace.  That begs the question as to how much Toyota advertises how green its hybrids but when you truly understand what being green is you will research the total greenhouse effect the car creates.  If it was very little I’m pretty sure Toyota would have released specifics on this information, however with their being very tight lipped it means that the real facts are not so pretty.
       
      For one thing, the nickel is typically mined from around the globe but for some reason I was told that the batteries used Canadian sourced nickel.  This is then shipped to the maker of the battery somewhere in Europe, where it is then shipped to Japan for assembly.  The motor also uses various rare earth elements sourced mainly from China (which is now limiting supply) which is then shipped to Germany where the electric motor is built.  Once these are completed they are shipped to Japan for final assembly.  Compared to a conventional car where most of the resources are sourced locally it leads to higher emissions to make a hybrid than a conventional car (now I’m comparing it to a simple Corolla as its closest non-hybrid stablemate).  If you are familiar with USGBC and their LEED certifications for buildings – the source and transportation costs of said resources play a factor in the environmental-ness of the building.  Similar measure I’m applying to the Prius.
       
      You make one assumption that all new Prius may used recycled batteries – well they would then need to be shipped from the recycling point, to the recycling center, to the battery maker, and then to the final assembly plant.

      So for all the press and marketing Toyota expends on how Green the Prius is once it’s at the dealership…why are they so silent about how green it was when it was made? I’d like to know and until Toyota can provide concrete facts that they are insignificant then I don’t think I’m being unreasonable as to my assumption they are higher than Toyota would like anyone to think.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      You got your hate on for sure.   There are motors with magnets in a lot of cars.  Other than the battery, it’s probably using less materials than a regular car, for example, a motor generator instead of a separate alternator and starter motor.  I really think you are reaching pretty far to make a foolish-sounding point.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      For one thing, the nickel is typically mined from around the globe but for some reason I was told that the batteries used Canadian sourced nickel

      That would be the aforemention CNW Prius/Hummer study.  It assumed that a) all nickel in the world comes from Sudbury, b) all Sudbury’s nickel goes into Priuses, c) Sudbury still looks like it did thirty years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I don’t have “hate” on as you have stated (man as soon as someone disagrees we HATE it and must be like Hitler – read up on the Goodwin principle).  I’m just asking a reasonable request for information so I can learn more about it.  I’m not a fanboy of hybrids and I’m not adverse to change b/c I’m set in the old ways.  Instead I’m an efficiency hound who looks at the total impact of and sees through the marketing looking for hard evidence to determine the best solution.  Since neither of you can produce evidence that a hybrid uses less materials overall than a conventional car and provide results of the production impact (of which you lay your case down on a debunked poorly written biased article – which unfortunately may have a point).  Toyota has not shed light on this issue even though they’ve been asked repeatedly..maybe you guys have access to information that the public does not as you are so sure of the fact that it has little environmental impact in production.
       
      You compare a small starter motor and alternator and treat it as the equivalent or greater than the hybrid’s motor which they are totally different in composition and construction.  Now I’ve admitted that I wish our conventional cars would get some of the trickle down technology which would help overall gas mileage for non-hybrids, such as start / stop, the need to get rid of an alternator / starter motor and envelope them into a single unit using the flywheel to start the car or having the engine stop at the proper ignition stroke.  I see that as a better way to provide higher mpg to the masses as that’ll impact 100% of vehicles sold and not a tiny fraction.
       
      I know…how dare I speak out against hybrids or try to discuss the fact that they are not our answer to our energy crisis or dependence on foreign oil or that they too pollute just like our cars that only burn dead dinosaurs.  Unfortunately it is my big mouth or in this case fat fingers against yours.

    • 0 avatar
      D101

      jaje,
      you might want to read this article: http://www.slate.com/id/2194989/?y=1

      It pretty much answers your questions.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Thank D101.  I read through that article (never came across it before).  Unfortunately immediately they are basing their analysis off a “best guess” from an engineer unrelated to the actual production.  I can’t attest as to the veracity of the results or the procedures used for the testing though.  They also used a 5 year old preowned Corolla with poor fuel mileage (average 30.5 mpg) with 4 speed automatic.  They also did not factor in the battery replacement requirement and its BTU equivalent for recycling the battery and creating a new one too.  They are much more fuel efficient today (a problem I see as Toyota and Honda focused on hybrids and getting max mpg out of a relative few cars rather than a systemic increase in mpg of all cars they sell).

    • 0 avatar
      D101


      jaje,
       
      Pablo Päster used the GREET model of the Argonne National Laboratory. This scientific model is still a model and thus not 100% accurate, but as someone said before: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether you believe in it or not.”
       
      What battery replacement are you referring to? Prius does not need battery replacement in the general case due to the very conservative charge cycling that it uses. On the contrary, conventional vehicles typically need new battery every 4-5 years. And that scores quite a few BTUs :)
       
      Besides, using the same logic the Prius being one of the most reliable vehicles in todays market saves a lots of BTUs for the production of the replacement parts and recycling of the defective ones :D

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I don’t have issues with the model they used – I will admit that I am not an engineer and likely do not completely understand that model itself.  However, my issue is with the data (no model is good enough to fix inaccurate data…or in this case “best guess”.  Because the data used is based on “best guess” that automatically makes it invalid to me.  I do not know the engineer who made these assumptions (Pablo) nor understand any bias he may or may not have.  A very important lesson I learned is you base science upon fact…not assumptions or guesses.  We all know what happens when you “assume”.

  • avatar

    One of the big reasons of Prius’ success is how the last two generations simply were an excellent car. They would’ve still sold tons of them without the hybrid system. This does not invalidate the fact that they are rather mainstream now, but I’m just saying. Hybrid Escape was quite decent too, for what it did.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      It is a very reliable appliance, but it has a limited application – big city only. Outside of it it sucks, plain and simple.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Hybrids make their most sense in the city where they provide a significant increase in city mpg than conventional engines.  However EVs if their electricity comes from a green source (not coal fired plants) they should make sense too and overcome the excess production footprint and price.

  • avatar

    The interesting bit is that Honda starts talking “mainstream” when they sell 690,000 of them a year.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    It’s hard not to think that the Prius is a remarkable engineering success, particularly in light of the fact that the current technology was rolled out 14 years ago.


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