Toyota hybrid cars environment plan
Toyota Motor Corp. announced a new environmental plan Wednesday, setting up goals to be achieved in the next 35 years. In this photo, visitors look at Toyota hybrid cars at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Feb. 5, 2013. Reuters/Toru Hanai

Toyota Motor Corp. announced a new environmental plan Wednesday, setting up goals to be achieved in the next 35 years and addressing issues like climate change, water shortages, resource depletion, and degradation of biodiversity. The Japanese auto giant said that it aimed to sell over 30,000 fuel cell vehicles around or after 2020 and added that it would eliminate carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 by using renewable energy and hydrogen-based production methods.

The company also said, in a statement released Wednesday, that it would begin selling fuel cell buses in small numbers by early 2017 and sell “100 fuel cell buses ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo.” It highlighted its plans to achieve sales of 1.5 million hybrids annually and 15 million hybrids cumulatively by 2020.

Toyota also said that it will launch a new series of 14 engines, which could "achieve top-level thermal efficiency and fuel efficiency improvement of more than 10 percent (JC08 cycle) over current models."

On Tuesday, the company declared that its new Prius hybrid will be over a fifth more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, Reuters reported. The comment came amid the Japanese carmaker's efforts to increase flagging sales of its environment-friendly model after a fall in gas prices.

Toyota’s sales of hybrid cars reportedly rose from less than 16,000 units each year in 2001 to a peak of about 237,000 in 2012. However, the numbers have dipped since then, and reports suggest that they could fall further below 200,000 this year for the first time since 2011. Reports also suggest that Ford and Hyundai are working on a competitor to the Prius.

“Competition in the alternative-fuel space is fiercer than ever, especially with plug-in variants,” Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar, reportedly said last month, referring to the all-new fourth-generation 2016 Toyota Prius. “With the competitive set expanding and gas prices staying low, it will be tougher for the fourth-generation Prius to make the splash its predecessors did.”