Now Toyota faces recall of its 'green machine' bestseller
TOYOTA is preparing to recall 270,000 Prius models in the latest of a series of embarrassing gaffes that threaten to wreck a reputation for reliability that has taken decades to earn.
The company confirmed for the first time that owners around the world have complained of a loss of braking power in the Prius. In the US, the problem is suspected of having contributed to four crashes.
The problem relates to the software controlling the brakes of the world's bestselling petrol-electric hybrid vehicle. Owners say there is a lag between their applying the brakes and the brakes taking effect when they are driving on bumpy roads.
Japanese press reports suggest that Toyota has decided on a worldwide recall of the latest models, and a leaked US email indicated it would take place in the next few days.
The controversy follows the recall since October of more than eight million cars worldwide because of two separate problems with acceleration. Recalls have affected 3.8 million cars because of the risk of the driver's rubber mat interfering with the accelerator pedal. A further 4.2 million were affected because of the risk of a jammed pedal sending the vehicle out of control.
According to Japan's largest newspaper, the 'Yomiuri', Toyota decided on Saturday to recall the Prius in Japan and would announce the move early this week after consulting with the Japanese government.
Bob Carter, a Toyota group vice-president, sent US dealers an email on Friday night saying that the carmaker was working on a Prius repair plan and would disclose details this week.
Mr Carter said that public awareness of the problem had prompted "considerable customer concern, speculation, and media attention due to the significance of the Prius image".
The company intends to run 60-second TV ads in the US to remind customers of its 50-plus years "of building safe, reliable vehicles". In a further sign of its concern at the damage done to its image, it placed full-page adverts in the British press last week reassuring customers of its determination to act swiftly. (© Independent News Service)