Autofield Blog

Reading the (Recall) Details


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19. February 2014

Last week Toyota announced that it was recalling some 700,000 Prius vehicles. Those vehicles are model years 2010 to 2014.

One interesting way of looking at that—probably not the first thing that comes to mind—is that they sure do sell a lot of Priuses. If we simply divide by five model years, that’s 140,000 each. Which surely isn’t bad for what some might have once considered a “niche” vehicle.

Prius

Apparently, this is a software problem. The software is such that it may cause higher thermal stress in some transistors, which could, in effect, burn them out. That would set off a bunch of warning lights that would undoubtedly scare the you-know-what out of some drivers, and the car could enter a fail safe mode.

Additionally, according to Toyota, “In rare circumstances, the hybrid system might shut down while the vehicle is being driven, resulting in the loss of power and the vehicle coming to a stop.”

Chances are, the “rare” and “might” get overlooked in that statement.

The company “has received no reports of accidents or injuries” associated with the situation. One might think that if we’re going back to model year 2010, that there are some 700,000 vehicle involved, that odds are there might have been some accidents and injuries were this a problem as large as that number. But “no reports.” Which probably gets overlooked like “rare” and “might.”

It is a voluntary safety recall. Which means proactive, ahead of the game.

As software becomes more and more a part of the operation of not just hybrid vehicles, but of every vehicle made by every manufacturer, there will undoubtedly be more of this, some of which won’t be as “rare” as this Prius situation.

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