Toyota's mounting problems are falling victim to some unintended acceleration of their own and now it's the Prius brakes.
[Update, 12:54 p.m. ET: CBSnews.com reported that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, testifying this morning before a House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, advised owners of Toyotas affected by the accelerator recall to stop driving their vehicles until they are repaired. Shortly, thereafter, he backtracked and said they should exercise caution and that his initial advice to stop driving them was misstated].
A Japanese transport ministry official said Wednesday that there have been 14 complaints about the Prius brakes falling to work effectively, according to an Associated Press story out of Japan Wednesday. The story quotes Masaya Ota as saying that the incidents occurred since last July with the new model Prius that started selling in the U.S. in May. They resulted in one accident.
"The Prius driver in the accident told police that a brake did not work," Ota said. "Other Prius drivers also complained brakes were not so sharp." The complaints in Japan involve the new Prius model, and the vehicles were all made in Japan, he said.
The article also said the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received 100 complaints about Prius brakes. However, I could not find an advisory or any mention of the brakes in the public content of the NHTSA web site.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood slammed Toyota yesterday, according to the story.
"They should have taken it (sticking accelerator problem) seriously from the very beginning when we first started discussing it with them," he said. "Maybe they were a little safety deaf."
On Monday, Toyota announced a "comprehensive" repair to the sticking accelerator problems that have led to a recall of 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. and have been linked to 19 traffic fatalities. However, many experts are skeptical that Toyota's solution permanently fixes the problem.
Separately, the LA Times reported today that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak complained that his Prius had "unintended acceleration" up to 97 MPH. But the legendary inventer and unabashed promoter of technology was sympathetic to Toyota.
"No product is perfect," he said. "I would buy another one."
The Prius has not been included in Toyota's massive accelerator problem recall.
My friend Steve, an Toyota Avalon owner who I posted about Monday, said he got his a notice from Toyota labeled something to the effect "Important notice for Avalon owners." It was for $25 off an oil change which he said was a letdown given his Avalon is part of the recall.
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