Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) is recalling 242,000 of its gas-electric hybrid vehicles worldwide due to a brake design flaw, the automaker announced on Wednesday. Included in the recall is the popular Prius Hybrid model.
The recall affects 233,000 Prius vehicles made between March and October 2009 and 9,000 Lexus HS250h models made between June and October 2009. The Lexus models affected by the recall were only sold in the U.S. and Japan, but the Prius vehicles affected were sold worldwide. In the U.S. specifically 81,570 Prius models and 5,030 Lexus HS250h models are being recalled.
The defect causes the brake pressure parts to crack over time due to vibration, which can slow brake response time. The brake pressure accumulator is at risk of cracking with fatigue and releasing nitrogen gas into the brake fluid. There have been no reported accidents or injuries caused by the problem thus far.
Toyota suffered a huge series of recalls in 2009 and 2010 due to faulty braking, sticky gas pedals, and defective floor mats, that took a big chip out of the Japanese company’s reputation.
Toyota spokeswoman Shino Yamada said that the recalled vehicles could experience a delayed brake response that would require longer stopping distances. The company will exchange the faulty part for a new one, a process that takes about three hours, she added.
In gas-electric hybrid vehicles, the battery uses energy captured from the brakes to fuel the engine, which increases gas mileage, especially in stop-and-go traffic. Toyota has sold 3.6 million of the wildly popular Prius hybrids as of the end of March.
The recall comes on the heels of a similar announcement from General Motors (NYSE:GM) on Tuesday. U.S. safety regulators are in the process of determining whether 400,000 GM vehicles will need to be recalled due to problems with the front driver airbag. GM has already recalled over 6,800 of the vehicles in question in two separate recalls, one that took place in October and one in January. The vehicles in question include the Chevrolet Cruz, Sonic, and Camaro, and the Buick Verano.
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