The Toyota Prius’s status as the pioneer that paved the way for today’s electrified vehicle market has been recognised with a lifetime achievement award in the TopGear.com Electric Awards 2023.
Announcing the award, the magazine declared Toyota quality ensured Prius has a lasting legacy: “As it piles on the years and miles, a Prius refuses to die. Durability and reliability are the stuff of legends, never mind the complexity and presence of a battery.”
First introduced in Japan in 1997 and launched in the UK in 2000, the original Prius introduced the world to the concept of hybrid electric technology and a cleaner, more efficient and user-friendly alternative powertrain. It began life as a niche model, presented as a four-seat saloon of modest proportions, but went on to deliver positive change and new generations of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) with low and zero emission capabilities. And where Toyota led, other manufacturers have followed, adopting the concept of hybrid as an effective means of reducing carbon emissions and shifting customers’ perceptions towards electrified vehicles.
Twenty years on from launch, Prius had helped secure 10 million global HEV sales for Toyota, a milestone acknowledged by Takeshi Uchiyamada, former Chairman of the Board of Toyota Motor Corporation, popularly known as the “father of Prius,” who said: “When we launched Prius, no one even knew what a hybrid was. those who drove it were called geeks or other names. Thanks to those early adopters who gave Prius a chance, hybrids have grown in popularity and have ridden a wave of success out of the unknown.”
Today, Prius has been the inspiration for Toyota to constantly improve its hybrid technology and adapt it for use in models across its complete range, from Yaris and Yaris Cross, to Corolla, C-HR and RAV4. In 2023, the new Corolla became the first UK model to benefit from the fifth generation of Toyota’s hybrid system, delivering not just higher fuel and emissions efficiency, but also more power and a greater driver rewards.
Hybrid also provided the foundation for Toyota’s development of other low and zero emission technologies for plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), fuel cell electric (FCEV) and battery electric (BEV) vehicles. Since the first Prius took to the road, more than 5.7 million have been sold worldwide, while sales of Toyota group HEVs, PHEVs, FCEVs and BEVs have passed 22 million. Toyota calculates together they have saved around 160 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, compared to equivalent vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.