Toyota hybrids gaining traction in Europe

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Annual sales of Toyota and Lexus hybrid models topped 100,000 in Europe for the first time last year. The milestone was achieved due to a 29 percent rise in demand for the automakers' hybrids to 109,478 compared with 2011.

The breakdown looked like this: 83,699 hybrids for Toyota and 25,779 for Lexus. At Lexus, hybrids accounted for 90 percent of the brand's total sales in western Europe last year, the company said.

The first-generation Toyota Prius debuted in Europe and the United States in 2000 but the car's first full year of sales in each market was 2001. While it took 12 years to exceed 100,000 hybrid sales a year in Europe, Toyota and Lexus needed just five years to do the same in the United States, where the brands' combined hybrid sales topped 325,000 last year.

While Europe and the United States are in different leagues when it comes to annual total unit sales of hybrids for the brands, they are very similar in another area. Hybrids accounted for 13 percent of total European sales for the Toyota and Lexus brands in 2012 while they accounted for about 15 percent of the automakers' total U.S. volume last year.

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