Toyota Motor Corporation, a Japanese auto manufacturer that is part of one of the largest companies in the world, has an extensive portfolio of automobile models. Toyota Motor Company was founded in 1937, even though it produced its first automobile a year earlier, in 1936. Toyota Motor Company is the parent company of several other vehicle brands, including the sporty Scion brand and the premium Lexus brand, and Toyota has stakes in several other automotive manufacturers, as well. Toyota’s extensive experience in the automotive industry has led to the development of plenty of new technology, and gasoline-electric hybrid innovation is example of an area where Toyota has really made waves. Toyota hybrid cars were among the first mass produced passenger vehicles to feature gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrains, and Toyota’s technology has been so successful that Toyota Motor Corporation has even licensed it to other auto manufacturers. Toyota hybrid cars account for about 75% of the hybrid vehicles sold in the United States.
Toyota hybrid cars feature Hybrid Synergy Drive, which is the brand name of the hybrid technology developed, used, and licensed by Toyota. Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus uses a version of Hybrid Synergy Drive called Lexus Hybrid Drive, and for Lexus vehicles, the system is tuned for better power delivery to better suit the needs and expectations of the luxury hybrid market, as well as to provide power properly to rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive Lexus vehicles. Hybrid Synergy Drive enables Toyota hybrid cars to operate as full hybrids, which means the car can run on the electric motor only for short distances and at relatively low speeds. When the first Toyota hybrids were released, most other hybrid cars on the market were mild hybrids rather than full hybrids, which means that operating the vehicle depends on both the gasoline engine and the electric motor. The full hybrid status gave Toyota hybrids an early advantage over most competing hybrid manufacturers.
The best known of the Toyota hybrid car lineup is the Toyota Prius. The Prius is a mid size hatchback, though when it was introduced in 1997 it was a compact sedan. For the first three years of the vehicle’s life, this Toyota hybrid was available only in Japan, but a global rollout for the 2000 model year brought the Prius to nearly 80 new countries and regions. The Prius is most popular in Japan and in the United States. In 2011, Toyota added new models to the Prius lineup. Since the successful worldwide introduction of the Prius, Toyota has also introduced Hybrid Synergy Drive versions of other Toyota vehicles, such as the Yaris subcompact, Camry sedan and Highlander SUV.