The world's largest carmaker, Toyota, has recalled around 625,000 hybrid vehicles over a software malfunction that can bring the gas-electric cars to a sudden stop. The call backs mostly affected the popular Prius model.
The Japanese automaker said Wednesday that a software glitch had compromised a power converter in its Prius V models, which are also sold as the Prius Alpha and Prius+, as well as in some Auris hybrid vehicles.
The problem was similar to one the company had last year, when it was forced to recall some 1.9 million Prius cars, Toyota's largest-ever call back.
"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 a stop," Toyota said Wednesday, adding that no accidents or injuries had been reported as a result of the defect.
More than half of the vehicles in question were sold in Japan, while the rest had been distributed to European and North American markets, the company said. The recall affected cars sold between May 2010 and November 2014.
The first hybrid
The Prius was one of the first hybrid cars to be widely adopted by eco-friendly consumers after it was rolled out in 1997. Since then, Toyota has sold more than 7 million hybrid models globally in what became the first mass production of green cars.
Earlier this year, the auto giant announced record profits - up 19 percent from the previous year - defying a massive recall scandal that ballooned to include millions of vehicles with faulty brakes, sticky gas pedals and slippery floor mats.
Toyota has been the world's leading automaker for the past three years, a title it has had to defend in light of tough competition from Germany's Volkswagen and General Motors from the US.
Wednesday's announcement isn't the first time Japan's auto industry has been hit by a recall scandal this year. Exploding airbags made by the firm Takata caused Toyota and Nissan to recall more than 6.5 million vehicles in May.
cjc/ng (AFP, Reuters)