Toyota recalls 1.9m Priuses to fix glitch

Software bug could bring car to a halt

Toyota Motor Corporation, the world’s biggest car maker, will recall 1.9 million Prius hybrids, including 18,000 sold in Thailand, because of a software glitch that could cause the vehicle to stall.

Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, a senior vice-president of Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT), said yesterday that the company is sending a letter to owners of the Priuses sold in Thailand.

The recalled Prius model was produced locally from Nov 1, 2010 to Jan 31, 2014.

“Customers can bring their Prius for checking and installation of the new software at any of Toyota’s 390 service centres nationwide, free of charge,” Mr Vudhigorn said.

The parent company yesterday said 997,000 Priuses in Japan, 713,000 in North America, 130,000 in Europe and the rest elsewhere are being recalled for a problem in the software that controls the hybrid system.

No accidents or injuries related to the problem have been reported.

The software glitch could damage transistors, causing warnings lights to go off, driving power to be reduced and the car to stop.

The recalled vehicles were manufactured between March 2009 and February 2014, according to a company statement.

As of December 2013, Toyota had sold 6 million units of the hybrid model worldwide.

The Prius was Toyota’s first hybrid, introduced in 1997. About a million sold during the first nine months after launch.

Toyota has sold 3.17 million Priuses worldwide, plus 633,600 Prius Aqua hatchbacks.

At present, there are 24 hybrid models and one plug-in hybrid model sold in 80 countries. Toyota plans to introduce 15 hybrid models worldwide in the next two years.

The auto giant has set a sales target of 10.32 million vehicles in 2014 after topping General Motors Co and Volkswagen AG in global deliveries for a second straight year in 2013.

In Thailand, TMT projects local sales of 400,000 cars this year, down 10.2% year-on-year.

Market share is forecast to rise to 34.8%. Exports are tipped at 445,000 units.

Last year, Toyota sold 445,464 cars in Thailand, down 13.7% from 2012, while exports totalled 430,929 units, up 6%.

The company had a 33.5% share of the Thai market, down from 35.9% in 2012.

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Writer: Piyachart Maikaew & agencies