Toyota Prius Chronological History
January 16, 1992 - Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces the Earth Charter, a document outlining goals to develop and market vehicles with the lowest emissions possible.
September, 1993 - Following the lead of Honorary Chairman Eiji Toyoda, Toyota R&D Executive Vice President Yoshiro Kimbara creates G21, a committee to research cars for the 21st century. "G" stands for "globe" and "21" for 21st century.
Late 1993 - Risuke Kubochi, general manager of the General Engineering Division, volunteers to take over the lead for the G21 project.
December, 1993 - First G21 progress report given to the TMC Board.
January, 1994 - Takeshi Uchiyamada takes over as leader of the G21 project team. He would later become the chief engineer for the Prius hybrid.
February 1, 1994 - First official meeting of the G21 project team. The team determines the goal of G21 is to build a car that is resource and environmentally friendly while retaining the benefits of a modern car.
Late 1994 - The G21 team designs a concept car with a hybrid engine for the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show. The concept car is named "Prius," the Latin word for "prior" or "before." (Why they did this, we may never know. Maybe because Prelude was taken?)
June 30, 1995 - Development of a hybrid vehicle is approved and code named "890T." The exclusive hybrid powertrain is named the "Toyota Hybrid System (THS)."
October 27, 1995 - Prius hybrid concept car is shown at the 31st Tokyo Motor Show.
December, 1995 - TMC President Hiroshi Okuda establishes a launch date of December, 1997, for Prius in Japan, one year earlier than planned.
July, 1996 - Irwin Lui of Toyota's Calty Design Studio in Newport Beach, Calif., wins an informal Prius design competition. His model is selected to go into production.
Late 1996 - Prototype test-driving begins.
March 25, 1997 - President Okuda publicly announces the development of the THS hybrid system to be used in the Prius.
May, 1997 - First media test-drive event takes place at the Higashi-Fuji Proving Grounds.
October, 1997 - Toyota Prius officially unveiled to the press for the first time.
December 10, 1997 - Prius goes on sale to the public in Japan, fully two years ahead of any other manufacturer. First-year sales are nearly 18,000.
April, 2000 - The Sierra Club, the nation's oldest and largest environmental organization, presents its "Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award" to the Prius.
August, 2000 - Prius is launched in the U.S. as a 2001 model, with an MSRP of $19,995.
January, 2001 - Toyota reports 5,562 Prius sales in U.S. for August-December 2000. Prius sales top 100,000 worldwide in 2002. Ward's AutoWorld magazine names the Prius electric/gas hybrid system one of the "10 Best Engines of 2001."
March, 2001 - Automotive Engineering International, the official publication of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) names the Toyota Prius the "Best Engineered Car of 2001."
June, 2001 - The Center for Responsibility in Business (formerly the Council on Economic Priorities) honors Toyota with a "Corporate Conscious Award" for the Prius and the development of hybrid systems to promote cleaner automotive engines and cleaner fuels.
January, 2002 - Toyota reports U.S. Prius sales of 15,556 in 2001, up 180% from 2000.
March, 2002 - The National Wildlife Federation, one of the largest member-supported conservation education advocacy groups in the nation, gives a National Conservation Achievement Award to Toyota for corporate achievement. The group cites the Prius as a real-world example of slashing the use of fossil fuels.
January, 2003 - Toyota reports sales of 20,119 Prius hybrids in U.S. for 2002, and increase of 29% from 2001.
February, 2003 - Prius is named one of the "Top 10 Most Technically Sophisticated Cars of 2003" by IEEE Spectrum, the trade magazine published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc., the world's largest organization of technology and business leaders.
April 16, 2003 - Toyota introduces second-generation 2004 Prius at the New York Auto Show. Its new, breakthrough electric/gas Hybrid Synergy Drive system has five key advantages over current hybrids - more power, better mileage, super-ultra-low emissions and it's more compact and adaptable to a wider variety of vehicles.
June 30, 2003 - Toyota announces that MSRP of 2004 Prius will remain unchanged from the 2003 model at $19,995.