Toyota celebrated the sale of the one millionth Prius in the United States. Just last month, worldwide Prius sales hit the three million mark. Toyota’s “car of the future” has come a long way since it was first unveiled in Japan in 1997.

More than 28 million vehicles are sold each year, and only a small portion of these vehicles are hybrid cars. This might change in the near future as oil prices continue to rise and consumers look to invest into more fuel efficient vehicles.

The Toyota Prius tops the EPA list of fuel economy leaders in 2011 with 51 MPG city driving and 48 MPG on highway. Three cars are in the second position for fuel economy leaders with a 41 MPG, including the Ford Fusion Hybrid FWD, Mercury Milan Hybrid FWD, and the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid FWD. You can check the list at the EPA web site.

If the 50-miles per gallon fuel consumption is not enough persuasion for you to buy a Toyota Prius then you should also know that this vehicle produces less of a carbon footprint for its user. An average car emits 430 grams of carbon per mile compared to the measly 178 grams of carbon per mile produced by the Prius.

The Toyota Prius is probably the most popular hybrid car in the world, and will eventually become the first thing individuals think about when the word ‘hybrid’ is mentioned. Sixty percent of the total hybrid vehicles sold all over the world are Prius vehicles.

Toyota shares its hybrid technology with other manufacturers, like Ford. It’s no wonder the Lincoln MKZ and the Ford Fusion Hybrid came in second on the EPA list of fuel economy leaders in 2011 with their 41-mile per gallon consumption.

Toyota is just one of the 13 auto brands that sell hybrid vehicles. For the last consecutive nine years, the Toyota Prius has been named  the ‘Best Overall Value of the Year’ by IntelliChoice. The Toyota Prius also enjoys the highest owner loyalty of any medium-sized vehicle for four of the last five years, according to R.L. Polk.

The Prius was launched in the United States in 2000. To date, this vehicle has saved Americans at least 881 million gallons in fuel, $2.19 billion in fuel costs, and 12.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Later this year Toyota is set to launch a Prius mini-van. Then, in 2012, the company will unveil the Prius C, a compact hybrid car. Are you ready to invest in a Prius now?