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Toyota to announce action soon for Prius hybrids

TOKYO — Toyota said Sunday that it will soon announce plans to deal with braking problems in its prized Prius hybrid amid reports that it has decided to issue a recall for the vehicle in Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp. has already had to recall more than 7 million other cars in the United States, Europe and China over a sticky accelerator and floor mats that can get caught in the gas pedal. Those problems and criticism of Toyota's response to them have sullied the stellar reputation for quality long enjoyed by one of Japan's corporate icons.

Separately, the company has told dealers in the United States it is preparing to repair the brakes on thousands of Prius vehicles, according to an e-mail sent by a company executive. It was unclear whether Toyota planned a formal U.S. recall.

"We will make an announcement soon on the action we plan to take," spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said, commenting on media reports Sunday that the company has decided to issue a Japan recall.

The Prius is the world's top-selling gas-electric hybrid.

Toyota decided Saturday on a recall in Japan covering its latest Prius model, Japan's largest newspaper, Yomiuri, reported. It said Toyota would announce the move early this week after consulting with the Japanese government. Japan's Kyodo News agency and TV Asahi carried similar reports. Kyodo said at least 170,000 vehicles in Japan would be subject to the recall.

Phone calls to the section at Japan's transport ministry dealing with recalls went unanswered Sunday.

Prius drivers in Japan and the United States have complained of a short delay before the antilock brakes kick in — a flaw Toyota says can be fixed with a software programming change. The brakes will work if the driver keeps pushing the pedal.

The brake problem affects about 270,000 Priuses that were sold in the United States and Japan starting in May.

Politicians step in

Toyota Motor North America chairman and chief executive Yoshi Inaba will appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday, as will Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland, the committee chairman announced Sunday. "Consumers want to know whether their cars are safe to drive and, if not, they need to know what to do about it," said Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y.

Toyota to announce action soon for Prius hybrids 02/07/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 8, 2010 9:23am]
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