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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
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

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform