The family is growingFrom a very humble beginning with the original Japanese Prius in 1997, pictured at the center of the image above, Toyota's hybrids have come a long way. Like most new technologies, progress seemed slow at first, but the magic of compounding has started to take over. It took about 16 years to reach 5 million hybrids sold, but just in the past 9 months, Toyota has sold an addition million. At that rate, it'll only take a few more years to sell another 6 million.
Of course now the mantle of innovation in the automotive sector lies with plug-in vehicles, but regular hybrids without the ability to charge from a power outlet are still much superior to non-hybrids when it comes to reducing fuel consumption and cleaning up tailpipe emissions. It's even better to walk, bike, or take transit, but unfortunately not everyone lives somewhere where that's possible...
Toyota sells 24 different hybrid models and 1 plug-in hybrid model in approximately 80. It also plans to launch 15 new hybrids within the next 2 years.
As you can see in the chart below, since 1997, sales grew from almost nothing to 1.2 million. That's a compound annual growth rate of over 60% on average (though of course from a low base). Japan is a very important market for Toyota hybrids, but with tightening fuel economy rules in North-America and Europe, these markets should also grow quite a bit over the next few years.