Toyota readies for a recall over 170,000 Prius hybrids in Japan

Kyodo

Toyota Motor Corp. has decided to recall and repair free of charge the latest model of its Prius hybrid sold in the domestic market due to complaints over brake problems, sources close to the matter said Sunday.

Subject to the recall are at least 170,000 units of the Prius car, which went on the market last May.

The automaker has begun notifying its dealers and is expected to report the plan to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry early this week, before announcing it to the public, the sources said.

Toyota has sold more than 300,000 units of the Prius in about 60 countries. The company intends to begin recalls or voluntary repairs outside Japan as well, they added.

In Japan, manufacturers need to report a recall plan to the ministry when their products are found not to meet safety standards and the cause lies in the design and production processes.

Toyota has said the problems with the Prius are not fundamental defects and has sought to fix them under a voluntary “service campaign.”

But the company has apparently concluded that a recall is unavoidable if it wants to regain the trust of its customers.

Toyota has received a number of complaints involving the brakes on the latest model of its popular Prius hybrid car in Japan and abroad. The complaints allege that the car suffers from momentary brake failure when traveling over uneven surfaces, potholes or bumps in the road.

Under the recall, the company plans to fix the problem by improving the software for the antilock brake system.

The fix can be made at Toyota dealerships in less than an hour. Vehicles manufactured in late January and after already have the updated software.

The company has reportedly began informing its dealers in the United States about a similar recall plan involving some 100,000 Prius vehicles sold there.

The gas-electric Prius hybrid car has been a symbol of Toyota’s technological strength and was the best-selling car in Japan last year.

Prius recalls would deal a heavy blow to the automaker, which has already recalled millions of vehicles from other product lines around the world over different problems.