Toyota's not having a brilliant 2010. As if having to recall a whopping 180,865 vehicles in the UK from the Auris, Avensis, Aygo, Corolla, iQ, Verso and Yaris ranges for having dodgy accelerator pedals wasn't embarassing enough, it's now announced a global recall of its third-generation Prius due to rubbish brakes. We wish we'd known that before we filmed our video review -- we might not have driven it quite so fast.
The problem was thought only to affect North American and Japanese models, with Toyota claiming as recently as 3 February that it had received "no reported problems in the UK or Europe". The company appears to have eaten a giant slice of humble pie, however, admitting just six days later that every third-generation Prius built before 27 January 2010 -- including 8,500 cars in the UK -- will be recalled over safety concerns.
The company will coordinate the recall by writing individually to every owner or registered keeper over the next few days, having obtained their contact details from the DVLA. Repairs will involve a 40-minute software upgrade to the car's on-board ABS computer system and will be carried out free of charge at authorised Toyota service centres.
Toyota insists vehicles produced after 27 January -- many of which are still on dealer forecourts -- needn't be upgraded. Recent customers have expressed their concern, however, that dealers have either been unable to identify whether their sales stock is affected, or simply didn't care.
Ben Howard, head of video at CNET UK's publisher, CBS Interactive, purchased his Prius in early January. He says dealers "didn't communicate at all around the issue and specifically whether it affected our new car. I enquired the day before we collected the car, and yesterday on announcement of the Japan recall, and both times we were told it either was not an issue, or did not affect the car we had collected last week." His vehicle has subsequently been identified as one with braking problems.
As worrying as these faults are, Toyota has gone to great pains to point out that drivers are unlikely to get into accidents. The company says customers may notice a change in braking feeling when hitting a bump, pothole or riding over low-grip surfaces, but at no time are drivers without brakes. The Association of British Insurers seems to back this theory and has stated drivers awaiting a recall are still covered by their motor insurance policy.
Are you a Toyota customer? Have you been affected by these issues? If so, let us know in the comments section below.