Toyota Motor's Prius hybrid has been voted 2005 European Car of the Year after picking up the corresponding title in North America in January.

Reuters noted that, since launch in early 2004, sales of the second-generation petrol-electric Prius, which is in short supply all over the world, are expected to reach 8,500 units in Europe this year while Toyota is forecasting a near-doubling to 15,000 units next year.

It was the third time for a Japanese brand to win the European award since its inception in 1964, after Nissan's Micra compact - called the March in Japan - in 1993 and Toyota's Yaris - also known as the Vitz and Echo - in the same segment in 2000, the report added.

"This is a major milestone in the acceptance of the hybrid powertrain and the recognition of its potential to become a mainstream technology," said Tadashi Arashima, chief executive of Toyota Motor Marketing Europe, in a statement cited by Reuters.

This year's jury consisted of 58 motoring journalists representing 22 European countries, the report added.