Toyota recalls 1.9 million Prius hybrids to fix software problem

Los Angeles TimesFebruary 12, 2014 

Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday announced a massive global recall of its popular Prius hybrid to fix a software glitch that could cause the car to stall.

The Japanese automaker also launched a recall of about 260,000 RAV4 sport-utility vehicles, Tacoma trucks and Lexus RX350 SUVs sold in the United States to address a separate issue.

The Prius recall includes 1.9 million vehicles sold from 2010 through 2014 model years.

It involves about 1 million cars in Japan, some 700,000 in North America and the rest from Europe and other regions.

Toyota said it will update software in the electronic controls of the car.

The software’s current settings could create heat in some of the transistors in the circuits of the car, damaging the parts. When this happens, warning lights on the dashboard activate. In rare circumstances, the hybrid system might shut down while the vehicle is being driven, creating a sudden stall.

The automaker said it knows of no accidents or injuries resulting from the problem.

Toyota sold more than 234,000 Priuses in the U.S. last year, making it one of the top-selling passenger cars.

‘More aggressive’ recall policy

In the other recalls, Toyota will update software on certain 2012 RAV4s, 2012-2013 Tacomas, and 2012-2013 Lexus RX350 models in order to address an electronic circuit condition that can cause the vehicle stability control, antilock brake and traction control functions to intermittently turn off.

“Toyota is trying to be more transparent and are more aggressive than other automakers with recalls. But it doesn’t seem to be that big of deterrent for consumers,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with auto information company Edmunds.com.

“I don’t think there is that big of an impact from something like a software update,” Caldwell said. “It is not a recall where there are crashes or people are dying.”

Toyota recalled nearly 5.3 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, more than any other automaker, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Japanese automaker topped Chrysler Group, which came in second by calling back almost 4.7 million vehicles.

Overall, automakers recalled almost 22 million cars last year, NHTSA said. That was 34 percent higher than the previous year and the most since 30.8 million vehicles were recalled in 2004, according to agency.

This latest recall comes as the automaker is negotiating a settlement of a four-year federal criminal investigation into whether it properly reported safety complaints about incidents of sudden acceleration in its vehicles to safety regulators.

Toyota confirmed the talks, issuing a statement that it “continues to cooperate with the U.S. attorney’s office in this matter. In the nearly four years since this inquiry began, we have made fundamental changes to become a more responsive and customer-focused organization, and we are committed to continued improvements.”

The settlement could include a fine of as much as $1 billion.

Lexus ranked most dependable

The automaker did earn some kudos for its automotive prowess Wednesday.

Lexus was named the most reliable car brand in the 2014 J.D. Power & Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, which examines the reliability of cars three years into their life.

It topped the list for the third consecutive year.

Vehicles produced by Toyota’s luxury brand had just 68 problems per 100 vehicles. That was almost half the average of 133 problems per 100 vehicles.

Toyota-branded cars also did well, logging just 113 problems per 100 vehicles. It ranked eighth of out of 31 brands.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service