TOYOTA suffered another blow to its image yesterday as it announced it was recalling nearly half a million hybrid models, including the latest version of its iconic Prius.
The recall – the third at the beleaguered Japanese carmaker – comes on top of the 8m vehicles worldwide already needing fixes for problems with accelerator pedals.
The move to call in a further 400,000-plus vehicles to remedy a problem with their anti-lock braking system affects 8,500 cars in the UK. Some owners of the third-generation hybrid electric-petrol Prius, seen as the leading “green” car, have complained that when driving on bumpy roads and ice, the brakes seem to slip and the car lurches forward before the traditional brakes engage.
There have been reports of more than 120 cases of braking problems in the USA, but Toyota said there had been no accidents linked to the problem in Europe and insisted the cars were “safe to drive”.
Meanwhile Japan’s transport minister said he will today meet US ambassador John Roos in a bid to stop the crisis at Toyota from damaging international relations.
Seiji Maehara said: “Recalling defective products is important, but each country needs to consider how to prevent this from becoming a diplomatic problem.”
Shares in Toyota have lost about a fifth of their value since late January but closed up 2.9 per cent yesterday, as the market responded well to signs issues were being tackled after days of speculation. But IHS Global Insight analyst Paul Newton predicted Toyota would nonetheless lose more than 10,000 sales for both January and February. FOCUS: P27