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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Toyota Is to Recall 2010 Prius Model Cars for Brakes

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Toyota Is to Recall 2010 Prius Model Cars for Brakes

By HIROKO TABUCHI

Published: February 7, 2010

TOKYO — Toyota plans to recall at least 311,000 of its 2010 Prius hybrid models after receiving a flurry of complaints about the vehicle’s brakes, a person briefed on the decision said Sunday.

The decision is to be announced early this week, this person said. It comes after Toyota’s recall of about 8 million cars worldwide over gas pedals that could stick or get caught in floor mats. The size of the recalls and questions about Toyota’s slow response to safety concerns have stung the automaker, which built its reputation on vehicle quality.

Regulators in the United States opened an investigation into the brakes of the 2010 Prius last week after complaints from drivers that the car can momentarily lose the ability to slow down when driven on an uneven surface. The Japanese government has also said it is also looking into the matter after similar complaints were reported in Japan.

Toyota executives acknowledged on Thursday that the company had identified a flaw in the car’s braking system, and corrected it for Priuses built since late January, which would not be part of the recall. The Prius, which runs on a combination of gasoline and electric power, was redesigned for the 2010 model year.

Toyota sold about 311,000 Priuses for the 2010 model year as of the end of December, including 103,000 in the United States and 176,000 in Japan.

An announcement will come early this week and cover all regions of the world where the latest model has been sold, said the person briefed on the plan, who insisted on anonymity.

The automaker is also looking into the two other hybrids with the same braking system - the Lexus HS250h and a model sold in Japan, the Sai - to determine whether they are susceptible to the same problem.

The 2010 Prius has an overhauled regenerative brake system different from the ones used in previous generations, a cutting-edge design Toyota said gives the car a technological edge and better mileage. With regenerative braking, energy from the wheels is used to help recharge the car’s battery. The car also has an anti-lock brake system.

The Prius and other hybrid models also rely on electronic systems that combine regenerative braking with conventional brake pads, so that the battery can absorb as much energy as possible while the pads do most of the work of stopping the car. Toyota has determined that the problem occurred as the car switched from regenerative to conventional brakes just as the anti-lock brake system kicked in.

On Friday, Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, apologized for the recent recalls at a press conference on Friday and said the company would cooperate fully with U.S. authorities on the matter.

link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/business/08webtoyota.html

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