Toyota's hybrid vehicle sales pass 5 million at end of March

TOKYO (AP) - Toyota says its global sales of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles have exceeded 5 million in a milestone for a technology that was initially greeted with skepticism.

Toyota Motor Corp. said on Wednesday that it had sold 5.125 million hybrid vehicles as of the end of March.

It started selling the Prius, the world's first mass produced hybrid passenger car, in 1997.

The Japanese automaker said sales of hybrid vehicles now account for 14 per cent of its global sales and 40 per cent its sales in Japan.

Toyota sells 19 hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid, and is promising 18 new hybrids from now through December 2015.

Hybrid technology was met with skepticism at first, but it is now offered by all the world's major automakers.