Prius fault prompts vehicle recall

26 February 2014

Toyota has announced a global recall of 1.9 million of its Prius hybrid cars because of a fault that can cause the car to suddenly stop.

The problem could impact on motor trade insurance policies for dealerships and garages over the coming weeks; the Prius is Toyota\’s best selling model and a statement from the company has said that the recall will affect 30,790 cars in the UK.

The widespread problem with the Prius has resulted in an entire product recall by the manufacturer. But it raises the broader question of whether or not faults with other hybrid or electric cars are covered as standard in a company’s motor trade insurance policy. With the number of such cars on the roads rising all the time, the industry needs to be aware of specific issues relating to electric and hybrid vehicles and whether or not they are covered.

The fault, which was made public two weeks ago, is said to be a software issue that can result in the failure of the hybrid car\’s power converter, meaning the vehicle can suddenly lose power or stop completely. The problem affects Prius cars manufactured between March 2009 and the present.

So far there have been over 400 reports of the same problem, although no accidents or injuries are said to have occurred as a result of the fault.

The news is another blow to the Japanese car manufacturer that, in 2010, had to recall millions of its cars because of widespread faults with their accelerators. Nevertheless, Toyota remained the world\’s top selling car manufacturer last year, delivering almost 10 million vehicles.

In a blog post about the recall, Toyota said: Toyota has identified that the software setting could lead to higher thermal stress occurring in certain insulated-gate bipolar transistors in the boost converter which may lead to them deforming or being damaged … In limited cases the hybrid system may shut down, causing the vehicle to stop.

Vehicle owners will be contacted by Toyota within the coming weeks by post or telephone and asked to make an appointment to bring their car to their nearest Toyota centre.”

Once there, the company stated it will perform a software update on the car, free of charge, which takes around 40 minutes.