Prius Brake Problem: Toyota’s Newest Headache


Skidding sounds not included.

After recalling more than 5 million accelerator problems, Toyota is hanging onto its reputation by a thread. Now, word is out that the 2010 Prius has brake problems. CNN reports:

In the U.S., more than 100 complaints alleging poor brake performance have been lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration against the 2010 Prius, a newly designed version of the car that was introduced last summer.

In Japan, 14 complaints about brakes in the Prius have been lodged since July. Japan’s Transportation Ministry has asked Toyota to investigate brake malfunction complaints in Japan on the Prius, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.

“The complaints received via our dealers center around when drivers are on a bumpy road or frozen surface,” Paul Nolasco, a Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman in Japan, said. “The driver steps on the brake and they do not get as full of a braking feel as expected.”

Brakes in hybrid cars like the Prius operate differently from brakes in most cars. In addition to standard brakes, which use friction from pads pressed against drums or rotors, hybrid cars use their electric motors to help slow the car, a process that generates electricity to recharge the batteries.

Someone at Toyota is slamming their head repeatedly onto a desk right now. How will the company dig itself out of this mess? I anticipate extreme deals, like 10-year warranties and temporary low prices on limited models, to lure customers back in. Even then, mending its reputation will probably take years.

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