TORRANCE, Calif., April 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 2 million (1,951,243) Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles have been sold in the United States, significantly reducing CO 2 emissions and fuel consumption. The announcement was made today by Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, in conjunction with Toyota Motor Corporation's announcement in Japan that it has sold 5 million hybrid vehicles worldwide. Toyota estimates that its global fleet of nearly 20 hybrid vehicles has resulted in approximately 34 million fewer tons of CO 2 emissions than those emitted by gasoline-powered vehicles. Many environmental experts believe CO 2 emissions are a major cause of climate change occurring in the world today. In addition, Toyota estimates its hybrids have saved their owners more than 3 billion gallons of gasoline compared to gasoline-only powered vehicles. "With more than 50 hybrid vehicle models from various manufacturers available in the U.S. today, hybrids on the road are saving nearly 500 million gallons of petroleum annually in this country," said Tony Markel, senior engineer with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Golden, Colo. He recalled that DOE and NREL's collaborative research with the auto industry, which started 20 years ago, spurred the development of hybrid-electric technology for the mainstream market to help reduce the country's dependence on petroleum. "With millions of hybrid vehicles on the road today, hybrid powertrains are mainstream market reality," Markel concluded. Toyota and Lexus hybrid vehicles make up 70 percent of the U.S. auto industry's total hybrid sales, while they account for 16 percent of overall Toyota/Lexus sales, both globally and locally. Total industry hybrid sales are roughly three percent of the nation's car market.