Toyota marked the start of the new millennium with the launch of the Prius, the world's first mass-produced gas/electric hybrid car. Prius, which in Latin means "to go before", was revolutionary, featuring an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 45-city/51 highway and ultra-clean tailpipe emissions that were 90 percent less in smog-forming gases than conventional cars at the time.
By the end of 2000, following its tag line, "The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection," Lexus edged Mercedes Benz by 423 units to became the top-selling luxury brand in the United States, a position it has held for nine years running.
May 2001 marked the incorporation of Toyota Motor Sales de Mexico, Toyota's new sales and marketing subsidiary in Mexico. By the end of the year, Toyota had grown to become the third-best-selling automotive brand in the United States, surpassing Dodge with best-ever sales of 1,741,254 vehicles.
In December of 2002, Toyota delivered its first two zero-emission, market-ready hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to customers in California for real-world testing. The next year, Toyota's new, breakthrough hybrid technology, "Hybrid Synergy Drive," debuted in the all-new 2004 Prius.
Toyota's growth in America continued in 2003 when Toyota launched Scion as its third line of vehicles. The Scion line features three modestly priced but feature-rich vehicles brought to market by most Toyota dealers under an innovative, youth-oriented marketing program. Scion was a success, and in 2004, Toyota's U.S. sales topped two million vehicles per year for the first time.
In 2005, Toyota continued expanding its environmentally advanced lineup with the introduction of the world’s first luxury hybrid, the Lexus RX 400h, and a hybrid option for the Toyota Highlander.
Toyota added a hybrid option to its popular Camry sedan in 2006 and began building it in the United States at its massive Kentucky plant. The company also opened up its 10th U.S. plant in San Antonio, Texas, to build full-size pickups. In addition, the company launched the FJ Cruiser with a design that harkens to the early years of the rugged Land Cruiser, the only vehicle Toyota has continuously sold throughout its entire 50-year history in America. As a result, sales surged to more than 2.5 million for the first time and Toyota established itself as the third best-selling automotive company in the United States.
During 2007, its 50th year in America, Toyota introduced its largest pickup truck ever, the rugged 2008 Toyota Tundra, as well as the second-generation of its iconic Scion xB urban utility vehicle and the world’s first V8 hybrid, the Lexus LS 600h.
As a result of an economic recession, Toyota’s sales were down 2008, but the Toyota brand outsold Chevrolet to become the No. 1-selling automotive brand in America and Camry retained its crown as the No 1-selling car in the nation for the 11th time in 12 years. Toyota also passed General Motors in global sales to become the world’s largest automaker for the first time in history.
With the dawn of 2009, Toyota is preparing to launch two all-new gas/electric hybrids: the third-generation Prius, with an estimated EPA fuel economy rating of 50 miles per gallon in combined driving, and the first, dedicated hybrid from Lexus, the HS 250h.
Toyota...moving people forward in America for over 50 years...and the best is yet to come.