Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the Toyota Prius has made an impact on the automotive world. Virtually synonymous with the term “hybrid,” Toyota’s fuel-sipping icon has just passed the 3 million mark in cumulative worldwide production since its introduction. Other companies have introduced hybrid models since, but none have had the impact or popularity as the Prius.
Each successive generation of the Prius has improved over its predecessor’s economy and performance, with the current model being the most efficient to date. In addition to the “regular” Prius liftback, Toyota now also sells the Prius C subcompact, and the Prius V tall wagon. In addition, Toyota now also sells a variety of hybrid models in both its Toyota and Lexus brands, utilizing technology initially pioneered on the Prius.
Toyota shows no signs of letting off the gas, so to speak, on hybrid and advanced propulsion development, pledging an investment of nearly $8 billion on environmental technology development for the fiscal year ending March 2014. Among the investments will be a new R&D facility in Japan and a 1 million sq ft, 12-story Powertrain Development and Production Engineering building, and an aerodynamics laboratory with a wind tunnel capable of wind speeds up to 155 mph.