A billboard tracking the number of gallons of gasoline saved by driving Toyota and Lexus hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) passed the 100-million gallon mark on November 25. Sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., the large sign looks like an odometer and updates itself every four seconds. The billboard’s purpose is to tally the gasoline saved by driving these HEVs in the United States since 2000, when the Toyota Prius first went on sale.

According to Toyota, more than 250,000 Toyota and Lexus HEVs have saved 4 million barrels of crude oil and avoided producing emissions of nearly 900,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide and 3 million pounds of smog-forming gases.

Toyota billboard

Toyota’s Vice President of Marketing Jim Farley says the billboard, located along the 405 Freeway in El Segundo, California, visually captures one of the most significant benefits of driving a vehicle using Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive. The company placed the sign in California because one out of every three Prius vehicles is sold there, and California has more hybrids on its roads than any other state.

Currently, Toyota and Lexus offer three different hybrids. According to Toyota’s Web site, the Prius is the world’s best-selling hybrid, and the Highlander hybrid and RX 400h luxury hybrid sport utility vehicle (SUV) are the two best-selling hybrid SUVs. In 2006, Lexus will introduce the GS 450h hybrid luxury sedan, and Toyota will make a hybrid powertrain available in its Camry.

Since 1997, Toyota has sold more than 500,000 hybrids worldwide. The company hopes to increase that number to a million hybrids a year by the early 2010s and plans to halve the cost of hybrid powertrains as early as possible to help achieve this goal.

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