Toyota Prius: 9 landmark moments

As the new 2016 Toyota Prius has been unveiled ahead of its European debut at the Frankfurt motor show, we’re taking a look back at the story of the original hybrid success story.

You can read the first details on the next Prius in this blog post – we’ll have more news on it in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, take a look back at these landmark Prius moments.

1. Prius concept revealed at 1995 Tokyo Motor Show

Prius 1995 conceptThe Toyota Prius had its first public appearance as a concept car at the 31st Tokyo Motor Show on October 27, 1995. This followed 18 months of work into developing a model with the benefits of a modern car, with a lower environmental impact.

Two years later, the first Prius made its full debut, and in October 2000, arrived on sale in the UK.

2. Prius makes its rally debut

The car’s incredible reliability credentials were quickly proven – when Toyota GB created the world’s first hybrid rally Prius. The car competed in an FIA sanctioned 5,000-mile rally from the north of Sweden to the Red Sea in Jordan, taking a creditable 14th place.

Rally Prius

3. Prius at the Oscars

It was 2003 and Chicago was about to win six awards including Best Picture. But one of the real headline-makers at the 75th Academy Awards was how some of the A-list actors arrived – not in a limousine or blacked-out SUV, but in a humble Prius.

The fact that the likes of Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart (pictured below) and around 10 other celebs chose to arrive in the Prius suddenly pushed the little-known model into the limelight. The cars were provided by an enterprising Toyota dealer based in Hollywood and the environmental organisation Global Green USA.

High-profile early adopters of the Prius included Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna and Tom Hanks.

Prius Oscars

4. Flat out on Bonneville

The Prius proved its worth beyond the commute, setting the land speed record for hybrid cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2004. It hit 130.794mph.

Bonneville Prius

5. Award winning Prius

By the time the third-generation Prius arrived, in 2009, it had become a regular top-seller in Japan, the Prius was named the Japan Car of the Year in 2009, and was shortlisted for the World Car of the Year award in 2010. It was even named 2009 City Car of the Year by Top Gear here in the UK.

Total global sales of the car hit 2,000,000 in 2010, with 10 per cent of those coming from Europe – showing how widely accepted hybrid power had come.

The Prius has also won eight international awards for its forward-thinking design.

6. Prius family grows with Prius Plug-in and Prius+

Until 2012, ‘Prius’ meant one model alone. But that all changed when the Prius Plug-in and Prius+ seven-seater joined the original model in the Toyota line-up.


The plug-in model used a lithium-ion battery to give a greater possible electric-only range of up to 15.5 miles, while the extra space of the seven-seat Prius+ made the car an option for larger families.


7. Prius sets Nürburgring lap record

We proved the incredible efficiency of the Prius Plug-in when we set a 698mpg benchmark at Europe’s favourite test track, the Nürburgring in Germany.

Prius Plug-in TRD Nurburgring (19)

8. Prius sales top 3 million

Total worldwide Prius sales topped 3 million in June 2013. The latest July 2015 figures show that 3,527,100 have now been sold around the globe.

9. A new Prius for 2016

The latest Prius has finally broken cover – and the full debut at the Frankfurt motor show will give the public and the media a taste of what’s to come with the original hybrid superstar. Stay tuned for to for all the news as it happens.


Read our detailed history of the Toyota Prius here.

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