The more powerful gasoline engines, along with equipment that allowed them to be started without cranks, contributed to the decline of the electric vehicle and of the nascent HEV between 1910 and 1920. In the early to mid-1970s, though, a brief flurry of interest and funding, prompted by the oil crisis, led to the construction of several experimental HEVs in the U.S. and abroad. Interest in, and funding for, HEVs began to wane almost as soon as oil became plentiful again.
The dormancy went on until 1993, when the Clinton administration announced the formation of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) consortium, which includes the "Big Three" automakers and about 350 smaller technical firms.
In general--and in stark contrast to the PNGV--European and Japanese HEV development is emphasizing existing or modestly improved technology. To a greater extent than their U.S. counterparts, the Europeans and Japanese are concentrating on ways of reducing production costs and making HEVs more marketable in the near term. Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Honda and Toyota, among others, are developing HEVs with their own money.
In mid-December 1997, almost a century after the hybrid was first conceived, more than 25 years after development work began on them in earnest, and after more than $1 billion had been spent worldwide in recent years on development, Toyota began offering a hybrid automobile to the general public - the Prius.
Toyota set an aggressive development schedule, bring the Prius to market in just two years time in an effort to be the first car company in the world to offer a production hybrid-electric car for sale. For more information, read Behind The Scenes of Prius Launch at the evWorld website. In less than three years from its introduction, over 50,000 Prii were sold worldwide. And in just over 10 years, the total Prii sold topped the one million.
|Dec. 1997 - Nov. 2000||Dec. 1997 - Jun. 2001||Dec. 1997 - Mar. 2003||Dec. 1997 - Sept. 2003||Dec. 1997 - Sept. 2005||Dec. 1997 - Apr. 2008|
|Japan||323||17,653||15,243||11,848||45,067||N/A||N/A||N/A||(All Toyota Hybrids)||All Prius Worldwide|
Click Here for a Graph of the Annual Sales of Toyota Hybrids 1997 - 2005
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