THE Toyota Prius went on sale in Japan back in 1997 to become the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle to make it on to the road.
But it took until 2000 before it officially made it to the UK - along with 90 other countries - but with its home country and the good old USA being the Prius's main target markets.
The totally-redesigned second-generation model was first seen at the 2003 New York Auto Show. Longer than the original, and now designed as a hatchback, it offered more space and practicality, along with having more environmentally-friendly credentials.
It took only until May 2008 for sales to hit the million mark, with the second million reached in September 2010.
For 2012, a plug-in version of the third-generation model was introduced, but unlike the standard Prius you could charge this one from a normal three-pin plug rather than requiring a dedicated high-output charger.
Charging itself took just 90 minutes at a cost of around 60p and that gave the car a range of up to 15 miles using electric power only before the 1.8-litre petrol engine had to kick in.
So the Prius made a lot of sense for those with short daily commutes.
Obviously, with any car with a full-size engine and an electric generating system, there had to be a price differential compared to that of a normal petrol-propelled car and even after a generous £5,000 Government grant, the Prius was still relatively expensive to put on the driveway.
But for those who were willing to spend that little extra, the long-term financial benefits could be quite exceptional.
The motor itself took it power from lithium-ion batteries that charged during braking and decelaration and the end result was unrivalled fuel economy and ultra-low emissions.
Unlike the rest of the Prius range, the Plug-in was available only in one trim level based on the flagship T-Spirit spec. However, it offered three different driving set-ups for maximum fuel efficiency - and more zero emission range.
HV mode operated pretty much as the standard Prius with the petrol engine kicking in automatically when more power was required.
In EV or electric-only mode, the car could travel up to 15 miles at speeds of up to 51mph - much further than in the standard hybrid which could manage only a few hundred yards in pure EV mode.
Finally, EV-City mode was primarily designed for zero emission areas and worked much the same as HV mode. But the system was set up to force the car to remain on electric power for as long as possible.
Out on the road, the Plug-in Prius handled virtually identically to that of the standard car and could accelerate from 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds and to a top speed of 112mph.
It proved quiet and refined on the hoof and the slick automatic gearbox took all the strain out of driving.
Comfort levels were also excellent with plenty room for three adults in the back, while the generously-sized boot and 60:40 split folding rear seats gave the car added flexibility for carrying larger and more awkward-shaped loads.
As a top-of-the-range car, it came fully loaded with many on-board features, including 6.1-inch colour touch screen with sat nav, cruise control, JBL sound system, rear-view camera, advanced Bluetooth and climate control and sfety features included traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, hill start assist and full set of airbags.
All Prius models keep their value well and a 2012 62-plate Plug-in Prius will cost anything between £12,380 and £15,470, while a 2013 63-plate example will cost around the £14,105 to £17,270 mark.
Move up to a 2014 64-plate model and you will have to pay anything from £16,080 to £19,560.