Hybrid recall

Toyota, reeling from safety woes that have sullied its reputation around the globe, will this week announce the recall of 300,000 Prius hybrid vehicles because of brake flaws, reports said.

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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