TOKYO - A decade after the first Prius went on sale, Toyota’s global sales of hybrid vehicles have hit a landmark 1 million units, underlining the Japanese automaker’s lead in “green” technology.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s cumulative sales of gas-and-electric-powered vehicles totaled 1.047 million as of the end of May. Of those, nearly 345,000 hybrids were sold in Japan, while 702,000 were sold abroad. Sales of Toyota hybrids have climbed from just 18,000 in 1998 to 312,500 last year, the company said.

“Toyota is clearly ahead of the pack in hybrids,” said Tsuyoshi Mochimaru, auto analyst with Deutsche Securities in Tokyo.

The Prius, which gets 55 miles a gallon on combined city and highway driving conditions, has been enormously popular as a mid-size sedan, a best-selling vehicle category.

The Prius is the overwhelming leader in the category, with a total of 757,600 units sold since its 1997 introduction in Japan. Toyota began selling the Prius in North America, Europe and other places in 2000. Last year, the model made up more than 40 percent of hybrid sales in the U.S.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials

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