Another bump in the road: Toyota faces recall of its ultimate 'green machine'

Japanese giant may have to add 370,000 Prius cars to growing list of faulty models

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 British owners have complained of a loss of braking power in the Prius. Similar complaints have formed the basis of angry claims in the US, where it is suspected of having contributed to four crashes.

The problem relates to the software controlling the brakes of the world's best-selling petrol-electric hybrid vehicle. Owners say there is a short lag between their applying the brakes and the brakes taking effect when they are driving on bumpy roads.

Japanese press and TV reports suggest that Toyota has decided on a worldwide recall of the latest Prius models and a leaked email from Toyota in the US indicated it would take place in the next few days. Toyota UK said there was "no official announcement" on a recall, and insisted the problem did not relate to safety but was about a "sensation" felt by owners. About 5,000 models of the third-generation Prius sold in the UK between last August and January are affected. Software on showroom models of the car, which costs £20,000, has been corrected.

The controversy follows the recall since October of more than 8 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 cars were affected because of the risk of a jammed pedal sending the vehicle out of control. Toyota UK says it became aware of the latter problem in November, which prompted it to announce a recall at the end of January.

This week owners should start receiving letters offering free repairs during the next two months. Toyota advises motorists whose accelerator is stiff or juddery to contact it immediately since cars with signs of problems will be repaired first, followed by older models. 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. Japan's Kyodo News agency and TV Asahi carried similar reports.

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. At least 100 drivers of Prius cars in the US have complained to the Government that brakes seemed to fail momentarily on uneven surfaces. The US Government says the problem is suspected in four crashes involving two minor injuries.

In the email – reported by the Associated Press news agency – Mr Carter said public awareness of the problem had prompted "considerable customer concern, speculation, and media attention due to the significance of the Prius image." He added: "We want to assure our dealers that we are moving rapidly to provide a solution."

The company intends to run 60-second TV ads in the US this week to remind customers of its 50-plus years "of building safe, reliable vehicles". In a further sign of its concern at the damage the recalls have done to its image, it placed full-page adverts in the British press last week reassuring customers of its determination to act swiftly.

In the UK, a spokesman said: "There have been some reports about the feeling of the brakes on the Prius. There is no safety issue, there's no issue with the brakes not working. It's customers who feel they are not working."

He confirmed there had been reports of the problem in the UK, but could not say how many. On Friday night, Toyota placed a notice on its website saying that there had been no reported problems with the Prius in the UK.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
News
Robyn Lawley
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

    £200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

    Education Recruitment Consultant- Learning Support

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + Generous commission scheme: AER Teachers: Thames T...

    All Primary NQT's

    £100 - £120 per day + per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Description Calling a...

    Supply Teachers Needed in Thetford

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers neede...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star