Toyota is recalling nearly 200,000 of its signature Prius green cars in Japan for braking problems, the latest in a string of embarrassing safety problems at the world's largest automaker. The Toyota Motor Corp president Akio Toyoda will hold a news conference at the automaker's Tokyo office later today to outline details of the braking problem, including plans for a possible recall in the US, a company official said.
The number of Prius petrol-electric hybrids being recalled would swell to about 300,000 if there is a recall in the US and other regions. The braking problem for the third-generation remodeled Prius is the latest safety woe for Toyota, which is already trying to fix problems in millions of vehicles recalled for other defects, including a sticky gas pedal. Mike Michels, a spokesman at Toyota's US headquarters in Torrance, California, would not confirm a US recall, but said the timing of any US recall announcement "would be the same as in Japan".
A US Department of Transportation spokeswoman said Toyota had not informed it of any recall. Toyota officials went to Japan's Transport Ministry to formally notify officials the company is recalling the 2010 Prius petrol-electric hybrid - the world's top-selling hybrid car - and two other hybrid models. In total, the recall numbers over 223,000 hybrid cars. Toyota will recall nearly 200,000 Prius cars sold in Japan from April last year through Monday, according to papers the automaker filed with the ministry.
A fix requires new software that oversees the controls of the antilock brakes and will resolve a delay in the braking, the papers say. Toyota had earlier said a fix was already in cars in production starting late last month, but the recall includes those cars as well. The two other hybrids being recalled are the Lexus HS250h sedan, sold in the US and Japan, and the Sai, which is sold only in Japan. The new software for those models is still being worked out, Toyota said.
Toyota's plug-in hybrid is also being recalled in Japan - a largely experimental model for rental and government use, with 159 sold. U.S. safety officials have launched an investigation into problems with the brakes. *AP