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Toyota hybrids hit the five million mark

As Toyota announces that five million hybrid vehicles have been sold in 80 countries around the world, New Zealand motorists are also embracing a new motoring future with record hybrid sales in this country.

Toyota says that in the last 11 months it has sold a record-breaking million hybrid vehicles globally, bringing a world total of hybrids sold to 5,125,600 - including 50,000 in Australia and 5,500 in New Zealand.

With increasing adoption by customers, hybrid vehicles are also quietly making inroads into reducing the impact of motor vehicles on the environment. The five million plus hybrids sold have saved approximately 12 billion litres of petrol and led to around 34 million fewer tons of CO2 being emitted, compared with petrol powered vehicles of similar size and driving performance.

After releasing its first hybrid vehicle in Japan in 1997, Toyota took almost 10 years to reach one million sales however demand for the environmentally-friendly vehicles has increased exponentially ever since. They now account for 14 per cent of Toyota's global vehicle sales and 40 per cent of its sales in Japan.

In New Zealand, the number of hybrids sold is growing fast. Toyota's sales in 2012 totaled 1222, more than 25% up on the 970 hybrids sold in 2011 and well over double 2009's 523 sales.

Interest in the vehicles, especially from corporate clients looking for a more sustainable, cost-effective fleet, is growing, says Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Sales & Operations Steve Prangnell.

"Although 5,500 hybrid vehicles sold doesn't sound like a lot, proportionally it's about the same as countries such as Australia, Canada and England," he says. "Our hybrids are now mainstream with such a strong uptake of the technology by customers - especially now that the cars boast fantastic performance on top of great fuel efficiency."

In New Zealand, the most popular Toyota hybrid is the Prius, followed by the Camry hybrid which is manufactured in Australia. Hybrid options are also available for the Lexus range with CT, RX, GS and LS hybrid models available to Kiwi customers.

Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid, is now in its third generation and has evolved into a modern family of vehicles with the recent introduction of the Prius c and v. Its development has led to a wide range of Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles.

Mr Prangnell says Toyota has developed hybrid technology as one of its core technologies for the 21st century, and is working to further raise performance, reduce costs, and expand its environmentally-friendly product line-up.