On Wednesday, Toyota announced that it was recalling over 625,000 hybrid vehicles, the large majority of them Prius models, due to a flaw in the software that controls the power converter. The defect could cause the vehicles to shut down and come to a complete stop. The recall affects the Prius V wagon/minivan, which are also sold as Prius Alpha and Prius+ in some markets, manufactured between May 2010 and November 2014. The recall also affects some models of Auris hybrid vehicles. Although the vast majority of the vehicles have been purchased in Toyota’s home country of Japan, roughly 120,000 of the affected vehicles were sold in North America. No reports of injuries or crashes caused by the defect have been reported as of the announcement. The automaker has sold over seven million hybrid vehicles worldwide since Toyota began making them widely available in 1997, with the Prius comprising most of those sales.
The defective code in the software affects two major components, the motor control electronic control unit and the hybrid control electronic control unit. The defect can cause these components to overheat, leading to the vehicle entering “failsafe” mode which limits functionality, and as the company explained, “In limited instances, the hybrid system might shut down while the vehicle is being driven, resulting in the loss of power, bringing the vehicle to stop.” A similar software flaw in the power converter led to last year’s recall of 1.9 million Priuses, the largest recall in the history of the vehicle. Wednesday’s announcement follows a similar recall involving the same software problem that Toyota issued in February for about 700,000 Prius models from 2012-2014, affecting other Prius models in addition to the V. A separate recall was issued in March for over 100,000 RAV-4 and Highlander models, including hybrids, for similar software glitches in their power-steering control system.
The latest recall is one in a long line of issues for Toyota. In addition to the recalls surrounding the software errors, over 2.9 million vehicles have been recalled as of last month due to the Takata airbag crisis. In 2014, the company agreed to pay a $1.2 billion fine to the Justice Department, who claimed that the company lied to investigators over the massive accelerator pedal recall late last decade. Over 8 million vehicles were recalled and the company has been faced with at least 400 wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits over the issue. From 2009-2014, Toyota recalled over 24 million vehicles, the most in the automotive industry and ahead of GM’s 21 million recalls during that time. Toyota is mailing formal notices of the most recent recall to owners of the vehicles who may be affected. Upon receiving the notice, owners may take their vehicles to a Toyota dealer, where mechanics will update the control units’ software at no charge.
Business Insider – AFP
Tech Times – Anu Passary
The Car Connection – Richard Read
The Consumerist – Ashlee Kieler