By on February 4, 2010

According to MSNBC, Toyota’s US-based spokesfolks are refusing to confirm a Nikkei report that Toyota has issued a recall of 270,000 2010 model-year Priuses for brake issues the company has already acknowledged. “We have no information on any decision to recall the Prius,” said Toyota Motor Sales USA spokesman John Hanson, who said the company is working with the NHTSA on a “preliminary evaluation” of the problem. According to another report, the recall (which will be filed “shortly”) involves 100k Priuses in the US market, with the remaining 176k in Japan.

While Toyota may or may not recall the Prius, Ford is not recalling its Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids for what appears to be a similar issue (poor transitions between regenerative and conventional brakes). Instead, Ford is instituting a “Customer Satisfaction Program” involving free software upgrades it says will fix the problem, which was first reported by Consumer Reports.

UPDATE: Ford responds with a press release after the jump.

UPDATE 2: While we sort some of these late-breaking developments out, here’s another spurious log for the fire: ABC News impugns “federal investigations were extremely limited in scope, after negotiations involving former safety investigators who had been recruited to work for Toyota’s Washington, D.C. office.”



Ford is proactively announcing a customer satisfaction program to update the software of the regenerative brake system of some 2010-model Ford Fusion Hybrids and Mercury Milan Hybrids.

Dearborn, Mich., Feb. 4, 2010 – Today, we are announcing a customer satisfaction program to update the software of the regenerative brake system of some 2010-model Ford Fusion Hybrids and Mercury Milan Hybrids.

We have received reports that some drivers have experienced a different brake feel when the hybrid’s unique regenerative brakes switch to conventional hydraulic braking. While the vehicles maintain full braking capability, customers may initially perceive the condition as loss of brakes.

To be clear, the Fusion and Milan Hybrids’ brake system maintains full conventional brakes and full ABS function even as the customer sees visual indicators and hears a chime. The software threshold to transition from regenerative brakes to conventional brakes can cause the system to transition to conventional brakes unnecessarily.

The software upgrade will reduce unnecessary occurrences of the vehicle switching from regenerative braking to conventional hydraulic brakes.

Customers with affected vehicles will receive a notice in the mail. We are asking owners of affected vehicles to have vehicle software reprogrammed at dealers at no charge.

There have been no injuries related to this condition.

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33 Comments on “BREAKING: Toyota To Recall 270k 2010 Priuses, Similar Problems Reported On Ford Hybrids [Updated with Ford press release]...”

  • avatar

    Edward, you couldn’t have placed this BETTER (on the front page, in relation to the previous article) if it were in a print magazine :)

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Yeah(!) Thanks for that, Ed(!)

  • avatar

    Interesting. Still waiting on a communique from Toyota Canada on this.

    • 0 avatar

      And I’m still waiting on Toyota do Brasil (and Honda, too). Dunno, something tells me we’ll have to wait down here even longer than you guys up there.

      As to Ford, well maybe it’s the right time to do it. With the media all over Toyota, maybe they’ll get away with it. Then again, it could also totally blow up their recent success and credibility.

      As to hybrids, maybe this is the kiss of death? Afterall even image conscious environmentalist draw the line at personal safety. Or not. Or maybe hybrids aren’t ready yet for primetime (afterall even new models have teething problems, imagine a whole new system like this).

      Wonder if the people developing the Volt have experienced any of this?

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      fromBrazil, check out this site for Volt info or the site. I haven’t heard anything about this issue here at GM and there was a Volt drive through the Appalachia mountains (in November I think it was) when we have our cold weather up north here.

    • 0 avatar

      If they get it right and build a bullet proof system it could be a true blessing for GM. I mean a campaign based on, “the Volt, the only hybrid that truly stops. All the time!”. Betcha all the Hollywood gliteratti would fall in love w/ it and Chevies could roll back into fashion.

      Oh the wonders of this age!!

  • avatar

    Wow! Not a good year for the company. If the Prii must be recalled for safety reasons b/c their ABS over-eagerly kicks in when the car hits a bump while braking, this recall will spread. Other Toyota models have this same annoying characteristic (from personal experience: 2002 Camry).

    It’s a bit odd that suddenly there are so many issues with Toyota cars coming to light in such a short span of time, though.

  • avatar

    Speak of the devil! I just saw Steve Woz talking about a separate issue he has on his Prius!!


    Honestly, I have to say I’m seriously disappointed with the state of cars. Among my personal car picks, the Prius for years has stood in my mind as an example of a hybrid cars that’s a good buy for features, drive comfort, and above all, mileage. It kind of saddens me to see that even this car is now being looked over. For 2009/2010 year, I had the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, the Ford Mustang, and the Toyota Prius as my personal picks in different categories.

    Toyota, get your rear in gear!! Otherwise, you’ll have people eyeing the Ford Fusion!!!

  • avatar

    Jack99: you’ve got some catching up to do…

  • avatar

    “Ford is not recalling its Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids for what appears to be essentially the same issue”

    Of course they aren’t.

  • avatar

    The linked Consumer Reports article about the Ford hybrid brake failures is interesting: The regenerative braking system can completely fail on cars made before Oct 09, causing the pedal to drop an inch and more pressure to be needed to stop the car. I shall wait with baited breath for Mr LaHood to announce on TV: “Stop driving your Ford Hybrids now!” and “We’re not done with Ford!”. This Ford issue is an actual defect leading to partial failure of the braking system, whereas the Prius problem is a trigger-happy ABS system.

    • 0 avatar

      I am not sure how the surge forward described in the Prius is a trigger-happy ABS system. But I will give some props to Ford. At least they are issuing the statement and notifying customers before the NHTSA had to get involved.

  • avatar

    Ok, so the Ford Hybrid fault is that occasionally the regenerative braking sometimes doesn’t kick in – but the normal brakes still work… Whilst the Toyota’s problem is that occasionally the brakes don’t work at all… I can see why one problem only requires a software update…

  • avatar

    GM is joining the party with a Cobalt steering recall. I suppose they felt left out.,0,2544439.story

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      mcs, a quote from the article you linked to “There is no recall of the car at this point, and Wilkinson said the company was cooperating with NHTSA in the investigation.”

      Yes, GM is investigating, as duly noted in the article.

    • 0 avatar

      No lie, Cobalt’s epas steering system is made by Toyota’s captive steering supplier JTEKT….

      what do you all think of that?

  • avatar

    “Lawyers advise Toyota drivers of legal danger of driving after product recall.

    The recall puts you on notice that there could be a fault, which means that you assume responsibility. You could be held criminally and civilly responsible for an accident and, in the case of a fatal accident, you could be charged with death by dangerous driving. If you have one of these cars, don’t drive it.”

    Looks like La Hood was right all along.

  • avatar

    The sky, apparently, IS falling…

  • avatar
    the duke

    “While we sort some of these late-breaking developments out”

    That should be “late-braking developments”, right?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t it be easier for Toyota to list their vehicles that are NOT under recall?

  • avatar
    Seth L

    I was optomistic Toyo would weather the accelerator storm fairly well, but this is going to hurt, for a long time too.

  • avatar

    I am not an engineer but I do now that federal law requires all vehicles in this country to have dual diagonal hydraulic braking systems and what I think is happening is that when the brake pedal is depressed, initially, it calls on the regenerative braking system to act first but when the brake is depressed further as in a panic stop the hydraulic braking system takes over and stops the car. Pedal feel has always caused problems with many drivers, when ABS was initiated in the early 90’s many drivers did not trust what their foot was telling their brain and much panic ensued. h/t to all you ABS detractors.

  • avatar

    Hey Toyota fanboys…Come out, come out wherever you are! We desperately need your copied and pasted links to sites with “reports” of non-Toyota related recalls!

  • avatar

    George Orwell would have surely loved the craven duplicity of the language in that FoMoCo PR release:


    • 0 avatar

      You mean like GM in the early 80’s, with the “Lock up the steering
      rack during a turn option” 3 trips to the dealer before a mechanic
      jumped in the car in the morning to move it, and the steering wouldn’t
      return to center, and drove into the side of a new Caprice…

      Yeah, same type of program…

  • avatar

    What is it with the GM troll hanging around here these days?

  • avatar

    Most computer software undergoes some form of beta testing – putting the ‘finished’ product in the hands of enough knowledgeable users to get real world bug reports so the code can be fine tuned. As cars become more software dependent, the car companies are going to have to develop some kind of beta testing. Preproduction and pilot production cars are just not made in sufficient quantities to get adequate test samples on the software.

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