The Toyota Prius is one of the most important cars of the past 20 years - here's a look back
- The Toyota Prius turns 20 this month.
- It's the most successful hybrid of all time.
- It's also an unlikely automotive icon.
In the history of the automobile, there have been iconic sets of wheels, but only two cars that could truly be called groundbreaking.
The Ford Model T - and the Toyota Prius.
Sorry, Mustang. Sorry, Corvette. Sorry, Tesla Model S. The Ford Model T created the mass-market motorcar. And the Prius perfected it for the 20th century.
The Prius is now 20 years old. It went on sale in Japan in December of 1997. And as Wards Auto pointed out:
Since its launch, Toyota has sold 4.3 million units. Cumulative hybrid sales by the automaker, including 36 other Toyota and Lexus models introduced over the past two decades, have grown to 11 million, including 1.5 million this year. Of these, 220,000 are Priuses.
No other hybrid model by any other automaker, including Toyota, is close. No other automaker is close. Honda, ranked second, has sold 2 million hybrids. The rest of the industry combined has delivered an estimated 2 million.
That's impressive. And after two decades of dominance, the Prius might be heading for decline, as hybrids are surpassed by all-electric cars.
Still, the Prius remains the Prius - homely, sincere, and an unlikely blockbuster. Here's a look back: