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Toyota to recall nearly two million Prius hybrid cars

Toyota has announced that is to recall nearly two million Prius hybrid cars after more than 400 reports of a fault that can cause the car to slow down and go into limp mode. Some 31,000 of these cars are thought to be in the UK. It is an embarrassing problem for any carmaker and one that has hurt Toyota before but recalls do not just affect the more mass market carmakers.

Toyota has announced that is to recall nearly two million Prius hybrid cars after more than 400 reports of a fault that can cause the car to slow down and go into limp mode. Some 31,000 of these cars are thought to be in the UK. It is an embarrassing problem for any carmaker and one that has hurt Toyota before but recalls do not just affect the more mass market carmakers. Earlier in February, British luxury sports car maker, Aston Martin, announced that it was to recall more than 17,000 of its cars.

Last year in the UK alone, more than 800,000 cars were the subject of recall notices, up from around 665,000 vehicles in 2009. This doesn’t mean that cars are becoming more poorly made, however. Instead it is a reflection of the industry’s willingness to proactively rectify potential problems and also a measure of how complex supply chains are changing the way cars are manufactured. Commenting on the car industry’s desire to maintain a good image, senior motoring analyst at IHS Automotive consultancy, Ian Fletcher, said: “The subject has been such a hot topic in the media over the past couple of years that automakers are wary of the damage that it can have to their reputation and so are increasingly swift to rectify situations.”

In the past, car firms have been adjudged to have acted too slowly in responding to reported faults and this damaged Toyota’s reputation in 2010 when it delayed recalling cars with an accelerator problem. This also left the company with a record fine in the US, as well as the cost of lost reputation. Changes in the way that cars are manufactured, however, could well see more, rather than fewer, recalls in the future.

For a long time the car industry has been determined to push down the cost of developing and manufacturing new models. This has led to large portions of the structure and components being shared between models and between manufacturers. When something goes wrong, then, it can affect many different brands and models. This has already been seen in the UK’s biggest combined recall of 2013, which saw 200,000 BMW, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota cars all recalled due to the same fault. It emerged that all of these carmakers had sourced faulty airbags from the same supplier. Moving forward, the car industry will have to be more careful in establishing the provenance of the parts it uses or continue to face damaging, large scale recalls.

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