The models can roll away, and there are reports of accidents at least in some markets.
UPDATE: In a statement to Motor1, Toyota has updated the status of the investigation into this recall. "Based on a diligent but not exhaustive review of available data, we are not aware of any reports of crashes, injuries or fatalities related to this condition as of October 3, 2016," the company's statement said in part. The full text is in the Press Releases section below.
Toyota is recalling the 2016 and 2017 Prius worldwide for a problem with the parking brake. The issue affects 340,000 of the hybrid models across the globe. Of those, 92,000 of them are in the United States. The Prius Prime is not part of this campaign.
It’s possible that the parking brake can stop working, and if this happens then the vehicle could roll away, especially if the owner forgets to put the transmission into park. Toyota will inform owners of the recall by mail in November. Dealers will install clips on top of the brake cable dust boots that will prevent the cable from not functioning correctly.
According to Reuters, this campaign includes 212,000 vehicles in Japan, and the company allegedly has reports of crashes, injuries, and deaths. We don't yet know whether any of those incidents are in the U.S. "Alleged crashes, injuries and fatalities are reported in many ways to many different organizations. Therefore, we would like to refrain from providing specifics at this time," Victor Vanov of Toyota Motor North America Corporate Communications told Motor1 via email.
This isn’t the first recall for the latest Prius – at least not in the U.S. In September, the company recalled 7,600 of them from the 2016 model year for an airbag issue. The compressed gas in the passenger side inflator could leak out because of an improper weld, and the bag might not inflate fully in a crash. As a fix, dealers will replace the affected airbag assemblies.
Other than these recalls, the Prius appears to be quite safe. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the new model a Top Safety Pick+ award after it aced all the agency’s crash tests. Euro NCAP also gave it a five-star rating, the highest possible score.
The 2017 Prius starts at $25,550 in the U.S. The standard model uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder and electric motor that achieve a total output of 121 horsepower (90 kilowatts). The plug-in hybrid Prius Prime offers tweaked styling, 25 miles of electric driving range, and a price of $27,920 before government incentives. Later, customers in the U.S might even get solar panels in the roof for charging on the go but right now safety regulations don’t allow them.
Source: Reuters, Toyota