Toyota recalls 400,000 hybrids worldwide
Toyota will recall 437,000 hybrid vehicles globally to fix faulty braking systems on its four models, including the Prius, adding to almost 8 million vehicles the company is repairing for separate defects.
The world’s biggest carmaker will halt sales of SAI, HS250h and Prius plug-in hybrids, said President Akio Toyoda, speaking at a Tokyo press conference.
The action threatens to further tarnish Toyota’s reputation in its home market, where the Prius was last year’s top-selling vehicle, as the company grapples with its worst recall crisis. Toyota has lost about $31bn in market value since January 21, when it began recalling millions of vehicles for defects linked to unintended acceleration.
“So far Toyota’s recalls have been overseas, but this time it’s in its home market,” said Tatsuya Mizuno, director of Mizuno Credit Advisory in Tokyo. “The Prius has been a rising star for the company, and Toyota won’t be able to avoid a worsening image. Toyota raised its full-year earnings forecast the other day, but it’s far too optimistic.”
The vehicles to be repaired include 199,666 2010 Prius hybrids, 10,820 SAIs, 12,423 Lexus HS250h cars and 159 Prius plug-in hybrids, according to the filing to the ministry.
Toyota also intends to recall the 2010 Prius in the US, according to a person familiar with the plans, who declined to be identified as the information isn’t yet public.
The carmaker will brief the press about measures it will take regarding the Prius in Japan and overseas at 3:30pm in Tokyo, company spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said by phone. Toyoda, 53, will meet with Japan’s Transport Minister Seiji Maehara at 5:30pm, according to the ministry.
Toyota rose 2.9pc to 3,375 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo. The stock has declined 19pc since January 21.
“Toyota is finally taking measures,” said Mamoru Kato, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center in Nagoya, Japan. “This is fueling optimism that Toyota is moving in a clear direction to avoid further consumer anxiety.”
The US Transportation Department is also investigating reports of Prius brake failures. The department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received 124 reports from consumers, including four saying crashes occurred with two “minor” injuries, according to an investigation document.
Toyota plans to recall a total of at least 270,000 Prius cars in Japan and the US, according to the person familiar with the plan. Juergen Stolze, a Toyota spokesman in Cologne, Germany, said yesterday the carmaker will decide whether to recall Prius cars in Europe by February 10.
The carmaker said last week it modified braking software on newly built Priuses in late January. The latest Prius model is built in Japan.
The model, driven by actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, is the world’s best-selling hybrid car. Toyota has sold 197,000 units of the latest version in Japan and 103,200 in the US, according to the company.
The company has been investigating reports that Prius owners driving at low speeds on bumpy or icy roads may experience moments where the car continues to coast for about a second after the brakes are applied, because of the anti-lock brake system.
The carmaker has said it received complaints about Prius brakes through dealers starting in the last few months of 2009.