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Uh Oh, Hybrid: Prius Joins List of Toyota Safety Woes

2010 Toyota PriusWord out of Japan this morning of a possible defect in Toyota’s 2010 Prius — the third generation model of the popular hybrid — adds another scuff to the reputation of an automaker already grappling with its largest ever vehicle recall. As the New York Times reports, the Japanese government on Wednesday said it has ordered the hybrid leader to investigate a potential problem with the 2010 Prius braking system after 14 complaints came in that brakes on the Prius “have momentarily stopped working when driving at low speeds, especially on slippery services.” Yikes.

This latest blow to Toyota’s reputation could also be a major pothole for the larger hybrid and green car market. The braking system on the Prius — a “regenerative” system that captures energy as the vehicle slows down and feeds it into the car’s batteries — is one of the key technologies for boosting fuel economy. Regardless of whether Toyota finds a true defect in the Prius, the shadow of doubt about safety could also make Toyota’s upcoming plug-in version of the popular model — and others like it — a tougher sell.

3 Responses to “Uh Oh, Hybrid: Prius Joins List of Toyota Safety Woes”

  1. Time for a ho-hum. Duration of not working [at the level expected when the pedal was pressed] = 1 second. Only in cold, icy, snowy conditions.

    Software adjusted for faster switchover between hydraulic/electro-mechanical systems for regenerative braking. In January.

    Anyone in this room driving cars or [even worse] pickup trucks when ABS braking made it into the mainstream? Slower cpu’s guaranteed the pedal “pushed back!” Screaming, oh horrors, the pedal pushed back at me. It thumped. It vibrated. It was fixed after a year or two of auto “experts” explaining to people to press real hard on the pedal instead of trying to feather it.

    Do I know? I’m still driving a 1994 Dodge 4×4 Ram 1500 with 1st gen ABS. It hasn’t killed me or made me sprout vestigial gill covers. Yet.

    OTOH – everyone should keep whining. Toyota’s share price will soon be a helluva bargain.

  2. Another bad break (no pun intended) for them. I really like their video that was released by the COO on the previous recall. At least they publically acknowledged the mistake and made it a priority to fix the issue.