- a california dealer claims that a recall and software fixes since 2014 have not resolved the problem with the toyota prius hybrid system's inverter, which converts the battery’s dc current to ac current for the motor and vice versa.
- the inverter problem can cause the car to shut down while driving.
- toyota has confirmed a separate recall of the 2018 prius c in addition to the 2010–2014 models previously recalled.
a toyota prius recall involving defective electric powertrains has reached a boiling point, with a california dealership suing the automaker. behind the business disputes is a safety concern that could affect more than 800,000 prius hybrids on u.s. roads. according to a report in the los angeles times, the software fixes toyota has released in three recalls between 2014 and 2018 aren't working.
reporting on courtroom testimony from toyota executives, the times said as many as 20,000 prius owners have reported electric powertrain failures since the recall was issued in february 2014. at that time, toyota recalled nearly 700,000 cars from 2010 to 2014 model years for inverter transistors that could fail and shut the whole car down while driving. toyota expanded this recall in july 2015 to include another 109,000 prius v models, then released another recall for all of these cars in october 2018. each involved software updates that were supposed to place the cars in limp-home mode if they detected a power failure. but the lawsuit alleges this hasn't been working as toyota intended, according to the times. toyota said it is also recalling the 2018 prius c to fix dc-dc converters on about 500 cars in the u.s., which is unrelated to the inverter recalls.
roger hogan, owner of two toyota dealerships in claremont and san juan capistrano, filed the lawsuit in 2017 alleging toyota blocked allocations of new cars he should have received after he raised safety concerns about the prius recall. the times said he refused to sell these cars in his inventory, even though they were used and dealers are only required to pull new cars under recall that haven't been fixed. these cars, following toyota's software remedies, would be in full legal compliance. but hogan, in complaint filings to the national highway traffic safety administration (nhtsa) and in the lawsuit, said that "there are lives needlessly at risk" and "our responsibility begins and ends with our customers' safety." toyota has said repeatedly that hogan's lawsuit is without merit.
the times said hogan and nhtsa officials met at least six times last summer. while complaints like hogan's can compel nhtsa to launch investigations and audits into ongoing recalls to determine if a remedy is working, there is no such case open as of this time. the prius c is not included in this recall.
this story has been updated to accurately reflect the recall of the 2018 prius c.