Since its launch late last year in Japan following the Tokyo Motor Show, 11,000 have been delivered to customers in Japan. At one tenth of the emissions of a 'normal' unleaded petrol-powered medium-sized car, and an improvement of 35-40% on fuel economy (about 76mpg), Toyota believes the Prius will be a popular choice over other alternative fuels.
Mike Moran, Toyota UK's marketing director, said: 'There is huge potential for a fleet take-up in the new Prius. It is the first vehicle which is realistic to run as an environmentally-friendly alternative. This vehicle marks a real step change in technology - it's the most advanced thing on the market. Forget LPG as a fuel and other alternatives, this is the way forward.'
Under the bonnet, the Toyota Hybrid System is a package of a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (the engine size may be bigger when it arrives in the UK to improve performance), a high-torque electric-drive motor and a separate generator. It works in conjunction with the nickel-metal batteries, which are housed behind the back seats. These are always maintained at a constant charge by the THS.