The Generation 1 Prius (WX10/XW11) was produced by Toyota from 1997-2001. Although there were other gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles on the market, including the Honda Insight, the Prius is normally considered the first mass-market global hybrid, and is synonymous with the hybrid category. Global production of the 1st generation Prius totalled approximately 120,000 vehicles. Despite the relatively low numbers, Toyota used the initial marketing and positive public image to create the preeminent electric vehicle brand sold around the world. Prius generation 1 set the stage, and created the initial public acceptance for the much more successful generation 2 Prius that followed.
The first Prius sold in the US was code named the NSW11. Manufactured in Japan and imported to the United States, It was positioned between the Corolla and Camry models, and sold for about $20.000. Toyota subsidized the price of each Prius because Toyota management believed that American vehicle buyers needed the additional incentive ti boost hybrid sales. Their commitment to the segment never waivered. The strategy worked, as the concept slowly but steadily gained momentum. The original Prius seated five passengers, and had a range of about 150 miles on battery power. The 1.5L gas engine provided peace of mind that owners could always reach their destination. Many of these original Prius vehicles are still on the road. They are beloved by their owners because of their fuel economy and overall reliability. Toyota also went 'above and beyond' in the early years of Prius in the area of warranty coverage and customer service.