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Toyota‘s popular Prius model is now officially under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for potentially faulty brakes. In a statement released by the NHTSA, it said it will launch a formal investigation into whether the popular hybrid has a brief loss of braking capability when traveling over bumpy or icy roads.
This announcement may, however, be a moot point as Toyota has already admitted to knowing there was a problem with the brakes on the 2010 Prius (a model previously unaffected by any of Toyota’s other recalls). Toyota has said it knew of a problem that caused a brief loss of braking during the transition from the car’s regenerative braking (which serves to power-up the car’s hybrid battery) to its traditional friction braking. Toyota refers to this as “slight unresponsiveness” and says it usually lasts less than a second.
The NHTSA has received over 100 complaints about the Prius’s brakes, including four where crashes resulted.
Toyota has said the issue has been solved on all models produced since late January but has yet to issue a recall for all 2010 models built and sold before that point. The NHTSA’s investigation is likely to ensure a recall.
See more Toyota recall news at the AutoGuide.com Toyota Recall News Hub.
2010 Pirus model could be part of new Toyota recall
After pressure from the U.S. and Japanese governments, Toyota has admitted that there was an issue with the brakes on the all-new 2010 Prius hybrid. Over 100 complaints about braking related issues have been reported to the NHTSA and roughly a dozen such reports to the authorities in Japan.
According to Toyota, Prius models sold before the end of January have an electrical defect whereby there is a brief loss of braking during the transition from the car’s regenerative braking (which serves to power-up the car’s hybrid battery) to its traditional friction braking. This only occurred when braking on icy or bumpy roads. Toyota refers to this as “slight unresponsiveness” and says it usually lasts less than a second.
The automaker has corrected the problem on all Prius models built since the end of January but has not issued a recall for consumers. A recall is being considered.
The 2010 Prius is not currently covered under any of Toyota’s recalls, while the 2004-09 model is covered under the floormat recall.
See more Toyota recall news at our Toyota Recall News Hub.
Japanese automaker is now running plants 24 hours a day
While Toyota’s sales may be suffering as a whole, sales of the all-new 2010 Prius are well above expectations. In fact, the Japanese automaker is having trouble keeping up with demand – something which may result in lengthy waiting lists for the third-generation of Toyota’s successful hybrid.
At the two facilities where the Prius is built in Japan, the plants are running 24 hours a day. To help staff the plants, Toyota has recruited workers from some of its other facilities and has restricted holidays for the summer.
And yet that still might not be enough.
Toyota says it can build as many as 50,000 units a month and it expected that with the dismal economy it could easily handle a forecasted volume of 400,000 units for the year. But before the Prius even when on sale Toyota had taken 80,000 orders for the car and sales in Japan last month topped 110,000 units.
This mini economic boom is having a positive effect on Toyota’s many suppliers, like Panasonic EV Energy, which makes the batteries for the 2010 Prius.
The popularity of the Prius is even prompting Toyota executives to reconsider moving Prius production to the United States, at a facility to be built in Blue Springs, Miss. – a project that was put on hold due to the high overhead costs (and, therefore, economic risk) of building a hybrid assembly plant.
If the 2010 Prius continues to sell well above the expected volume it could help Toyota surpass its sales goal this year of 6.5 million units.
[Source: The New York Times]