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.

Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living