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Toyota recalls 437,000 hybrids - Lexus, Prius models affected

Published:Wednesday | February 10, 2010 | 2:00 AM

Toyota is recalling 437,000 Prius and other hybrid vehicles worldwide to fix brake problems - the latest embarrassing safety lapse at the world's largest automaker.

"I don't see Toyota as an infallible company that never makes mistakes," President Akio Toyoda said at a news conference Tuesday. "We will face up to the facts and correct the problem, putting customers' safety and convenience first."

The number of vehicles recalled globally by Toyota Motor Corp now has ballooned to 8.5 million, including for floor mats that can trap gas pedals and faulty gas pedals that are slow to return to the idle position.

The 2010 model of the Prius - the world's top-selling hybrid and Japan's top-selling car - wasn't part of the earlier recalls.

Toyota officials went to Japan's Transport Ministry earlier Tuesday to formally notify officials the company is recalling the 2010 Prius gas-electric hybrid.

The automaker is also recalling two other hybrid models in Japan, the Lexus HS250h sedan, sold in the United States (US) and Japan, and the Sai, which is sold only in Japan.

The 223,000 cars being recalled in Japan include nearly 200,000 Priuses sold from April last year through Monday, according to papers the automaker filed with the ministry.

In the US, Toyota will recall 133,000 Prius cars and 14,500 Lexus HS250h vehicles.

Nearly 53,000 Priuses are also being recalled in Europe.

Toyota is suspending production of the Sai and Lexus HS250h in Japan until the updated software for those models is ready.

If drivers experience a delayed reaction when depressing the brakes in any of these models, they should keep pressing, according to Toyota and the transport ministry.

The Prius repairs will start in Japan on Wednesday. US owners will start receiving letters about the recall next week.

Also on Tuesday, Toyota said it will voluntarily recall about 7,300 four-cylinder Camry sedans produced early in the 2010 model year because of a possible brake fluid leak.

Dealers will inspect the cars for a power steering hose that could come in contact with a brake tube, causing a leak.

The leak means it could take longer for the vehicle to stop, the company said. Owners will get letters starting in mid-February.

Toyota first noticed the Camry problem during a factory inspection last March. The company decided to recall the vehicles even though it did not receive any consumer complaints.

The company's plug-in hybrid is also being recalled in Japan, Europe and the US, but in small numbers because it is a largely experimental model for rental and government use.

Shares in Toyota rose 2.9 per cent Tuesday to 3,375 yen, but are still down about 20 per cent since January 21, when it announced the gas pedal recall.

- AP