Toyota hybrid sales over 1.2 mn in a year

Japanese auto giant Toyota said Wednesday it had sold over 1.2 million hybrid cars around the world last year, more than doubling sales in the previous 12 months.

The company -- the world's biggest automaker -- said it had shifted around 1,219,000 million duel fuel cars, including green celebrities' favourite Prius.

The figure means around 14 percent of all vehicles Toyota sold last year were hybrids.

The home market, where subsidies for environmentally friendly cars were in place for much of calendar year 2012, accounted for more than half of the sales.

Hybrids usually feature a petrol-driven engine, while an electric motor, powered by a rechargeable battery is used at slower speeds.

A spokesman for Toyota told AFP the company was expecting to sell 1.25 million hybrid vehicles in 2013.

"Our goal was to exceed one million units per year. Now that we have succeeded, we would like to stay on top in the future," he said, adding the company plans to launch 18 new hybrid models by December 2015.

Since the release in 1997 of the first Prius, Toyota has sold a combined total of 5.125 million hybrid vehicles in about 80 countries.

The company said if all of those cars been single-fuel vehicles, they would have generated around 34 million more tonnes of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, and would have burned 12 million kilolitres (3.17 billion US gallons) of gasoline.

Toyota's concentration on hybrid vehicles has somewhat stolen the march on rivals Nissan, who have invested heavily in all-electric vehicles and seen so-far disappointing sales, blamed partly on a lack of infrastructure.