Toyota says it is recalling about 437,000 Prius and other hybrid cars worldwide to fix brake problems — the latest in a string of embarrassing safety problems at the world’s largest automaker.
Company President Akio Toyoda made the recall announcement on Tuesday afternoon at a press conference.
“We have decided to recall as we regard safety for our customers as our foremost priority,” Mr. Toyoda said.
There have been about 200 complaints in Japan and the U.S. about a delay when the brakes in the Prius were pressed in some conditions.
Also being recalled are two other hybrid models — the Lexus HS250h sedan and the Sai, which is sold only in Japan.
U.S. safety officials have launched an investigation into problems with the brakes.
The braking problem for the third-generation remodelled Prius is the latest safety woe for Toyota, which is already trying to fix problems in millions of vehicles recalled for other defects, including a sticky gas pedal.
The automaker has fixed the programming glitch in Prius models that went on sale since last month, but had done nothing yet on the cars sold before then, according to Toyota.
There have been nearly 200 complaints in Japan and the U.S. of drivers experiencing a short delay before the brakes kick in — a problem that can be fixed with a software programming change. The delay doesn’t indicate a brake failure.
The problem is suspected in four crashes resulting in two minor injuries, according to data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is investigating the matter. Toyota says it’s cooperating with NHTSA’s investigation.
Toyota said its plug-in hybrid is also being recalled, but that is still a largely experimental model for rental and government use in limited numbers, and isn’t for mass commercial sale.