Damage to Toyota's image is growing by the day with the automaker now considering a US and Japanese recall of Prius hybrids - the vehicle that's a symbol of its technological prowess and green car ambitions.
The beleaguered automaker faces probes of brake problems with the latest model Prius in the US and Japan but remains tightlipped about adding the gas-electric hybrid to the millions of cars it has recalled. Toyota is also investigating possible brake problems with its luxury Lexus hybrid.
Nihon Keizai, Japan's top business newspaper, said today that Toyota Motor Corp. would soon notify Japan's transport ministry and the US Department of Transportation of a recall of 270,000 Prius hybrids.
Toyota said it is considering a recall but no decision had been made. "Nothing has been decided on whether we will recall or not," spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said.
Some owners of the 2010 Prius have reported their brakes do not always engage immediately when they press the brake pedal, or that the brakes have an inconsistent feel. The problem has been fixed with a software programming change for Prius vehicles sold in Japan and overseas since late January but not for vehicles sold before then.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would assess the scope of the problem in the Prius and the safety risk to about 37,000 cars that could be affected. Toyota, however, has said it sold 103,000 of the new Prius in the US since May last year.