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Recall of Toyota Prius and other hybrids

February 9, 2010
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This article featured on ChannelNewsAsia got me thinking… will there be any effects on the U.S. and global environmental movement?

Toyota is pulling roughly 223,000 hybrid vehicles in Japan and about 147,500 in the United States due to a problem with the anti-lock braking system, in a recall that also extends to Europe and other markets.

The move covers the newest petrol-electric Prius as well as the plug-in Prius, the Sai sedan and the Lexus HS250h. It will suspend sales in Japan of the Sai and Lexus HS250h while it develops a fix for those vehicles.

Drivers “can experience reduced braking performance resulting in increased braking distance”, the automaker said in a statement.

The Prius is the world’s most popular hybrid, beloved by Hollywood stars and environmentalists alike, and its troubles are a major setback to Toyota’s efforts to stay in pole position in fuel-efficient automobiles.

Favoured by celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Britain’s Prince Charles, nearly 1.5 million Prius vehicles had been sold in 40 countries as of August 31.

The Japanese maker has said it redesigned the anti-lock braking system for Prius cars produced since last month.

It says a delay occurs when the vehicle switches to the conventional hydraulic brake from regenerative braking, used by hybrids to capture the energy of the car’s motion to recharge the battery for its electric motor.

Should Toyota’s image suffer due to the extent of damages done so far, will people stop believing in what the brand has strived to achieve? The Toyota Prius is the most fuel efficient gas car currently sold in the U.S. according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA and California Air Resources Board (CARB) also rate the Prius as among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States based on smog forming and toxic emissions.

It first went on sale in Japan in 1997, making it the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. It was subsequently introduced worldwide in 2001. The Prius is sold in more than 40 countries and regions, with its largest markets being those of Japan and North America. In May 2008, global cumulative Prius sales reached the 1 million vehicle mark, and by August 31, 2008, the Prius reached worldwide cumulative sales of 1.43 million units. As a top seller, the U.S. market made up more than half of the 1.2 million Prius sold worldwide by early 2009.

Japanese car manufacturers Toyota and Honda are both facing serious issues with recalls. Will this mean bad news for the environment too? Given that these manufacturers produce some of the world’s most efficient cars that we have today. Sure there will be those who aren’t affected, who will continue to go the distance in their own personal capacity to reduce their carbon emissions but what about new/prospective car owners?

Cars produce significant amounts of CO and CO2 and cause air pollution

Let’s hope that the two car giants can clean up their act and get working on new and better technologies for hybrid cars so as to again boost their credibility for highly efficient and reliable cars.

Mel

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