Toyota is recalling 1.9 million Prius Hybrid sedans sold around the world between 2009 and 2014 due to faulty software that could cause the vehicle to stop unexpectedly.
More than a third of the vehicles, 713,000 in all, were sold in the United States, where the Prius has long been the best-selling hybrid in the market. Nearly half, or 917,000 will be recalled in Japan where the Prius has routinely been the best-selling vehicle of all kinds. The rest of the cars affected by the recall were sold in Europe and other parts of the world.
Toyota says it has received no reports of injuries or accidents related to the problem. But the risk is that an accident could occur if one of the hybrids were to unexpectedly stall while on the road.
The maker explains that software could cause transistors to become damaged in the hybrid powertrain control system. If that were to happen it could trigger warning lights to go off, driving power to be reduced or, in a worst-case scenario, a Prius could come to a stop.
The vehicles targeted by the recall were produced between March 2009 and February 2014.
The recall announcement comes just weeks after Toyota confirmed it had ordered a so-called stop-sale of most of its key models sold in the U.S. market due to what it dubbed a “compliance issue.” About 33,000 vehicles now in dealer lots are affected, the stop-sale affecting only those equipped with seat heaters.
Toyota Executive Vice President Bob Carter said the maker is already making repairs and hopes to complete the process within a matter of weeks. But he also confirmed Toyota is waiting to hear whether vehicles already in consumers’ hands will now be subject to a recall.
(For more on the stop-sale, Click Here.)
Separately, the maker has confirmed it is working with the U.S. Department of Justice on a settlement to end a criminal investigation related to the maker’s problems with sudden acceleration. The problem prompted a series of recalls starting in 2009 that ultimately impacted 14 million vehicles sold worldwide and led to an earlier stop-sale the following year.
Toyota has so far paid more than $1 billion to settle claims emerging from the sudden acceleration problem and is facing further class actions from owners. It has already paid more than $70 million in U.S. government fines for failing to respond to sudden acceleration-related problems in a timely fashion. But it is now reportedly negotiating a settlement of criminal claims that could cost it more than $1 billion.
(Click Here for more on the proposed settlement.)
Toyota recalled more vehicles for safety-related issues than any other maker four of five years between 2008 and 2012. Final figures on 2013 have not been announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Various Prius models have been involved in a number of recalls in recent years. That includes early versions of the latest, fourth-generation hybrid which was the target of a late 2010 model-year safety action due to software glitches involving its regenerative braking system.
(Toyota takes top spot on brand perception list. Click Here for the story.)