Hybrid recall

The move by the Japanese auto giant will affect the latest model of the Prius, a car beloved of Hollywood stars and environmentalists, following scores of complaints about brake malfunctions.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said the recall, which would repair a software program for the anti-lock braking system designed to prevent skidding, is expected to affect some 270,000 vehicles in Japan and the United States alone.

“The company has notified its dealers in Japan that it would recall all the (new model Prius) vehicles sold in the country,” the mass-circulation paper said, without giving a source.

“The company will also repair the software free of charge in the United States and other countries in a similar manner,” Yomiuri said, adding that the company would make an official announcement this week.

The Nikkei business daily said Toyota would also repair about 30,000 vehicles sold in Europe, China, Australia, Middle East and other areas.

Toyota, which has had to recall around eight million cars around the world because of sticky accelerator pedals, has sold more than 300,000 of the latest Prius in 60 countries and territories since the new model rolled out in May.

Representatives of Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, were not immediately available to confirm the reports.

The Prius, which combines a petrol combustion engine with a battery-powered electric motor, is Toyota’s flagship hybrid car and key to its efforts to stay in pole position in fuel-efficient vehicles.

Toyota, which dethroned General Motors in 2008 as the world’s biggest automaker, produced 530,000 hybrids in 2009, spanning 15 models from sport utility vehicles to sedans, mini-vans and the luxury Lexus series.

The Prius braking problems have come on top of trouble with unintended acceleration with Toyota cars.

2009 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

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More than half of Americans use Internet for health

But only 5 per cent used email to communicate with their doctors, the survey by the National Center for Health Statistics found.

Researcher at the center used a survey of 7,192 adults aged 18 to 64 questioned between January and June 2009.

“From January through June 2009, 51 per cent of adults aged 18-64 had used the Internet to look up health information during the past 12 months,” the center, part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.

“Among adults aged 18-64, women were more likely than men to look up health information on the Internet (58 per cent versus 43 per cent) and were also more likely to use online chat groups to learn about health topics (4 per cent versus 2.5 per cent).”

The survey found 6 per cent of adults requested a refill of a prescription on the Internet, and almost 3 per cent had made an appointment with a healthcare provider in the previous 12 months using the Internet.

Other researchers have found doctors are reluctant to use the Internet or email to communicate with patients because of concerns about privacy as well as confusion about how to charge for their time.


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