For the Japanese, patience is a defining virtue: for Toyota, it could sum up its entire environmental policy.
The carmaker launched its first hybrid vehicle, the Prius, to an unsuspecting UK public 20 years ago. It became something of a cliché that tree-huggers delighted in the quirky car’s green credentials, but they were an exclusive bunch. In its first four years, Prius sales accumulated fewer than 1,500 models.
It took another four years before Prius achieved a foothold in the market, while registrations peaked at just more than 10,500 in 2010. Since then, newer Toyota hybrids have carried forward the baton, notably the Yaris Hybrid which finds almost 16,000 new owners each year.
From modest beginnings, Toyota has now sold 374,570 hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars in the UK, plus a further 130,560 Lexus hybrids. Patience indeed.