Japanese automaker Toyota has recalled 1.9 million hybrid Prius cars due to a software glitch that caused the vehicle to stall. The software glitch problem has affected hybrid Prius cars on a global scale, but mainly in North America, Europe, and Japan.
Toyota said 130,000 hybrid Prius cars in Europe has been recalled, along with 713,000 in North America, and 997,000 in Japan. The company did not specify other locations, but we expect the affected cars in other countries to be fewer in number.
So far, there are no reports of accidents relating to the software glitch that caused problems in the hybrid system.
The problems the software could cause includes the possibility of the transistors being damaged, causing warning lights to go off even when everything is fine, and bringing the car to a complete halt.
Toyota is lucky so far in the sense that not a single Prius owner has reported on these issues, or the company could by now be facing a large number of class action lawsuits that could force Toyota to pay out millions of dollars in damages.
"My impression is Toyota is recalling more often, even with very minor flaws," said Yuuki Sakurai, president of Fukoku Capital Management Inc. in Tokyo. "Toyota learned its lesson from the big recalls in 2009 and 2010."
Analysts Alec Gutierrez believes that not many owners of the Toyota hybrid Prius are experiencing problems with their vehicles. He also believes that those who experienced the problems would likely give Toyota the benefit of the doubt, probably because the company is well known for its quality.
"Instead, it seems as though this is another case of Toyota trying to stay ahead of the curve by proactively issuing a recall to ensure those that own a Prius would not be at risk," Gutierrez said.
"Although consumers continue to give Toyota the benefit of the doubt, with the competition today stronger than Toyota has ever seen, they need to keep a keen eye on their quality to ensure current owners and potential intenders don't begin to look elsewhere when it comes time to buy a new vehicle," he said.
295,000 cars recalled due to electrical fault
As if 1.9 million recalls weren't enough, Toyota was yet again forced to recall 295,000 vehicles globally due to electrical faults that could increase the risk of crash due to the traction control becoming inoperative, along with other safety systems.
Of all the car recalled, 261,114 cars are from the United States, while the others were imported to other markets around the world. Globally, these include 57,000 Lexus RX350 crossovers, around 109,000 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks, both from model years 2012 and 2013, and 129,000 Toyota RAV4 SUVs from model year 2012, a Toyota spokesperson said.
According to NHTSA documents, Toyota and Lexus dealers will update the skid control electronic unit software free of charge. In the U.S., 107,052 RAV4 SUVs, 54,010 RX350 crossovers, and 100,052 Tacoma trucks have been recalled, NHTSA documents have revealed.
As more computerized cars begin to hit the market, we should see more recalls for software issues rather than mechanical. It's a scary situation, because arguably, software issues are more likely to happen on a regular basis when compared to mechanical.