Fifteen years after Toyota (NYSE: TM) sold its first Prius model, the company has announced plans to introduce 21 new hybrid models in the next three years.

In addition to its hybrid offerings, the Japanese automaker plans to add a new electric car to its lineup this year and a fuel cell vehicle by 2015, according to an Associated Press article.

The announcement comes at an important time for the automotive industry, as alternative energy and fuel efficiency become not just important, but necessary in the newest round of U.S. fuel standard changes. It also symbolizes the newest production push after Toyota suffered major setbacks during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Toyota's worldwide hybrid sales reached 4 million units in through April. It now sells 18 hybrid passenger vehicles, accounting for 15% of global vehicle sales. Its most recent plug-in Prius model topped 6,000 unit sales in the U.S. earlier this month.

Fool contributor Justin Loiseau owns none of these stocks. You can follow him on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFJLo.

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