The best-known hybrid vehicle in the world, the Toyota Prius, is being recalled globally by its maker due to a software issue with its engine control unit (ECU). The current ECU settings in the third-generation Prius have been reported to cause some transistors to overheat, which in turn sends the car into a failsafe mode and, under certain circumstances, could cause the hybrid system to shut down while driving. You'll still be able to bring the vehicle to a stop and Toyota states that no accidents have resulted from this problem, but obviously it's an issue that needs resolving.
A 40-minute patch will fix the glitch, but the hit to Toyota's reputation will be longer-lasting
Toyota is reaching out to affected Prius owners now and asking them to bring their car in for a software patch. In Japan, there are just under a million third-gen cars that will need to be updated, while the US accounts for some 700,000, and the UK has a much smaller share at around 31,000. Reuters reports the overall figure to be 1.9 million in total. The update process will take only 40 minutes to complete, though it would surely have been much less painful if the company were able to deliver it over the air the way that Tesla does.
While Toyota is keen to point out that its other hybrid vehicles aren't affected by the same flaw as the 2010 to 2014 Prius models, the company has also issued a US recall of RAV4, Tacoma, and Lexus RX 350 cars to rectify a separate problem with the skid control software. As with the Prius issue, this doesn't seem like an immediate threat to road safety, but it will surely tarnish the company's already imperfect reputation.