Toyota first jumped into the hybrid vehicle market back in August of 1997, releasing the Coaster Hybrid EV in Japan. That was followed in December with the release of the Prius, which was the first mass-produced hybrid passenger vehicle in the world. Today, Toyota sells 24 different hybrid models, one of which is a plug-in, in 80 different countries and territories. Plans call for 15 new Toyota hybrid models to be released in the next two years, with the 2014 Highlander Hybrid being the first release in the United States market.
The environmental impact of hybrid technology has been tremendous, according to Toyota. It calculates that its hybrid models have reduced CO2 emissions by 41 million tons and cut gasoline consumption by 15 million kiloliters, by comparing hybrid models with equivalent gas-only models.
The future of Toyota hybrid powertrain technology looks to bring about several innovations. The automaker has said it is working on a platform that would allow owners to use different fuel combinations, further reducing demand for gasoline worldwide. The company is also looking to further increase fuel efficiency, performance and reduce the cost of manufacturing hybrid vehicles in the hopes they will become even more popular with the public.