Toyota Celebrates The 20th Ann Of Their Game-Changing Prius

Toyota is gearing up to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Prius by taking a look back at the original model which was introduced in 1997.

The story begins in 1993 when the company began discussing a “vehicle for the 21st century.” These discussions paved the way for the creation of the G21 Project which would eventually be known as the Prius.

The project originally had the goal of “raising fuel efficiency performance to 1.5 times the level of that of conventional engines,” but that target was later increased to twice the level of conventional engines. The company toyed with several ideas but the development team finally decided to go with a hybrid powertrain when management wanted to show a concept at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show.

The concept was unveiled in the fall of that year and it featured a 1.5-liter D4 engine, a continuously variable transmission, and a capacitor which acted as an energy storage device. This, along with an engine start/stop system, enabled the car to return 70.5 mpg (30km/L) which was roughly twice as much as other vehicles in the same class.

The production model was launched two years later and became the world’s first mass-produced hybrid. The car remained relatively faithful to the original concept but it returned a slightly less impressive 65.8 mpg (28.0 km/L).

Photo Gallery

  • iea96



    am i care?

  • pcurve

    thank you Toyota

  • ediotsavant

    The car that change the Automotive industry. Bravo!

  • Obsequious Lickspittle

    And they’ve be hitting it with increasingly larger “ugly sticks” ever since.

  • Dennis Scipio

    The Prius was always a 5 door liftback even with this 1st gen model shaped more like a sedan?

  • Holden Grange

    The first and second generation Priuses always had a modern and simple look to them. The models after 2008, with exception to the Prius V, make me wanna gag.

  • Bash

    20 years, still ugly.

  • I had the first USA model year 2001. Averaged (I kept a log) 50 mpg over its entire lifetime. Semi truck smashed into back of it, and it died, on the highway. I sustained little to no visible injuries. Interesting little car. Clever engineering.

  • Christian Wimmer

    I love girls as much as any heterosexual male, but man do I find these women-next-to-car-at-car-show photos ANNOYING as hell. In this case, they add something to the photo, namely beauty and sexiness – something which the first-generation Toyota Prius lacked (and its successors still do!).

    • TheBelltower

      I prefer this over the tan chino and blue polo shirts women wear at US car shows.