The Toyota Prius is classified as a fully hybrid electric mid-size hatchback, though it started off as a compact sedan that was developed and manufactured by Toyota. In 1997, the Prius went on sale in Japan and was available for purchase at all four of the Toyota dealerships in this country. This vehicle was the first mass-produced hybrid and was introduced to international markets in 2000. This vehicle is sold in almost 80 different countries around the world with the Unites States and Japan making up its largest markets. On a global level, Prius sales have gone past the 1 million vehicle mark as of May 2008. In September of 2010, over 3 million Priuses had been sold around the world.
In 2010, Toyota made the decision to expand the Prius family to include the Prius v, which is an extended hatchback wagon, as well as the Prius c, which is a compact hatchback. A production version of the Prius plug-in hybrid became available in 2010. This vehicle got its name from the Latin word meaning “before”. Toyota has claimed that they chose this particular name because the Prius was introduced before environmental was a mainstream topic of discussion or concern to the public.
The first generation of the Toyota Prius was first introduced in 1995 as a hybrid concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show. The first Prius, which is called the NHW10, went on sale in December of 1997. At first, this vehicle was only available for purchase in Japan, but it was imported on a private level to parts of the United Kingdom as well as New Zealand and Australia. When the Prius was first launched, it was the world’s first mass-manufactured gasoline-electric hybrid. This hybrid car won the Car of the Year Japan award when it was launched, and it also won the Automotive Researchers’ and Journalists’ Conference Car of the Year award in Japan the same year.
The second generation of the Prius, known as the XW20, was redesigned for a whole new look and a mid-size liftback design in 2003. The size of this vehicle fell somewhere between the Corolla and the Camry with a redistributed interior space as well as some configuration changes under the hood. The XW20 is 6” longer than its predecessor is and it has a more aerodynamic design with a Kammback body.
Production of the second generation Prius started up in August of 2003 at the Tsutsumi plant in Toyota, Aichi with some of the other work done at the Fujimatsu plant at Kariya, Aichi in 2004. The Prius is designed with an ell-electric A/C compression or cooling, which was extremely innovative in the automobile industry at the time. This vehicle also uses a NiMH battery that is both smaller and lighter than is predecessor. The battery pack that U.S Prius models use is rated for 150,000 miles or 10 years. When it comes to safety, the Prius earned a five star score for the U.S National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash testing in 2004 for passenger frontal collision and a four out of five star score for front and rear seats.
The third and current generation of the Prius, also known as the XW30, was first introduced to the public in January of 2009 as the 2010 model at the North American International Auto Show. Sales for this vehicle started in Japan in May of 2009. The 2009 Prius won the Car of the Year Japan Award again because of its truly innovative and eco-friendly design as well as its impressive safety features and crash test ratings.