The Drive Toward an All-Electric Future and Why It Matters

By Whitelaw Reid

Two decades ago, Toyota’s Prius sedan rolled out of factories and into Japanese showrooms, becoming the first mass-produced gasoline/electric hybrid in an automotive landscape dominated by internal-combustion fuel engines.

It didn’t happen overnight. The company describes the 1997 Prius as the “culmination of a concerted, five-year effort by Toyota Motor Corporation to develop and bring to market a practical, low-emission family vehicle.”

In the end, that commitment to innovation led to business success, and a more environmentally friendly design. The iconic Prius today remains the world’s best-selling hybrid vehicle in a relatively crowded segment of automobiles. In business terms, hybrid technology is mature, even if it took 20 years.

Now, the next generation of vehicles has begun to rise.

Consumer demand is surging for the fully electric Tesla. In response, Volvo, Mercedes, BMW and Toyota have all jumped into the electric car market, while multiple Chinese companies are ramping up development of electric vehicles.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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