The new ecological petrol-electric hybrid car from Toyota is selling nearly six times better than the Japanese car maker had expected, according to Associated Press (AP).

Toyota told AP on Thursday that orders received for the revamped Prius in Japan in September totalled 17,500, more than five times Toyota’s target of 3,000.

AP noted that the new Prius, on sale in Japan since September 1, will start selling in North America this month and in Europe by the end of this year – Toyota began selling the first-generation Prius in 1997as the world’s first commercially mass-produced hybrid car.

AP said the hybrid switches between its petrol engine and an electric motor to produce the most efficient and ecological ride and, according to Toyota, gets as much as 35.5 kilometres per litre (84 miles per gallon) for driving in Japan while its economy is 55 miles per gallon under US driving conditions.

Associated Press said Toyota has sold more than 120,000 first generation Prius vehicles worldwide and company president Fujio Cho has said he wants to sell 76,000 of the new models worldwide in a year.

AP noted that the latest Prius model [as sold in Japan] is equipped with automated steering to help curb side and reverse-in parking – the driver does not have to touch the steering wheel for the car to park itself.

Associated Press also noted that Honda already sells hybrid vehicles while Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler‘s Chrysler Group have also announced plans.