One million Priuses sold

AP Photo/Toyota
A 2004 Toyota Prius.

Or is it Prii?

In any case, Toyota has sold a million of them. On their official blog, a spokesman for Toyota reports that, as of the end of April, some 1,028,000 of the cars have sold in over 40 countries.

But what’s far more important than kudos or sales figures is this: According to our calculations, as of April 30, 2008, Prius hybrids worldwide contributed to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. Our engineers calculate that the global Prius fleet has produced approximately 4.5 million tons less CO2 than would have been emitted by a similar number of gasoline-powered vehicles in the same class and of similar size and driving performance.

For those of you interested in the math, that total is based upon the number of registered vehicles multiplied by an estimated distance traveled, multiplied by our calculations of Prius fuel efficiency in the U.S., Europe and Japan, multiplied by a CO2 conversion factor.

As a point of reference, total global CO2 output is about 27 billion tons, so, if Toyota's numbers are right, we can thank the Prius for reducing those emissions by .017 percent or so.

According to the Associated Press, hybrids account for just 2.2 percent of the US market share for 2007, but overall hybrid sales were up 38 percent, with the Prius leading the way.

The distinctive teardrop-shaped car is getting harder to find. Bloomberg reports that supplies are at their lowest in two years. It now takes two weeks to receive delivery of the car.

"This is a special vehicle, and as fuel prices keep rising, it gets more special,'' Toyota spokesman John Hanson told Bloomberg. "Right now, US customers can get a Prius. Next month or the month after that, it's tough to say.''

At the same time, SUV sales have plummeted recently, prompting American automakers to refocus on hybrids and other high-mileage cars.

Toyota hopes to continue with the success of its flagship hybrid. Edmunds Auto Observer reports that Toyota is planning on rolling out a bigger, faster, and more efficient version in 2009.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.