Toyota, who are already trying to cope with recalls totalling 8.1 million vehicles on 5 separate continents, have been ordered by Japan’s Ministry of Transportation to investigate a sudden increase in consumer complaints about braking problems in its popular third-generation Prius hybrid vehicle.
The Japanese car manufacturer has received several complaints about braking in the Prius in both Japan and North America since the end of 2009, Toyota spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said.
She did not say when the directive was issued or how Toyota would respond and also declined to give a figure for the number of complaints but said most were filed since the end of last year.
News of the fresh investigation comes as the world’s largest car maker struggles to contain a recall crisis aimed at fixing incidents of unintended acceleration in some of its vehicles. Since last autumn, Toyota has recalled 8.1 million vehicles worldwide which more cars than it sold last year.
Problems with the latest generation of the Prius, which went on sale in the USA, Europe and Japan last year, would be another blow. The green halo surrounding the popular hybrid is largely credited for Toyota’s image as a leader in environmentally friendly technology.
“All the complaints were nearly the same,” Takeuchi said. “They are usually about driving in bumpy or icy conditions and when you push the brake, there is an unusual feel.”
Drivers typically complain about losing braking ability, often while driving over bumpy roads, or feeling the brakes give way.
The Japanese government has received 14 reports of braking problems in the Prius, including one that caused an accident with two injuries in July, media reports in Japan have said.
Source: Automotive News