Japanese automaker Toyota has announced a global voluntary recall of some 625,000 Prius V hybrid wagons — known as the Prius Alpa and Prius+ in parts of the world — to remedy a software problem which could cause undue stress in the car’s power electronics system, ultimately damaging various discrete components in the car’s power electronics and ultimately resulting in a loss of power.
The problem is believed to affect some 109,000 2012 through 2014 model year Toyota Prius V wagons made for the U.S. market as well as approximately 160,000 European market Prius Plus wagons. The remaining cars — approximately 356,000 — are Japanese-market Prius Alpha Wagons.
Despite being known by a different name in each of the three markets, the cars are all based on the same vehicle design, although we should note that while the Alpha and Prius + variants are sold as 7-seat minivans, the U.S.-market Prius V is only a five-seat wagon.
According to Toyota’s official release announcing the recall in the U.S., the problem stems from incorrect software settings for the motor/generator control ECU — the piece of hardware which translates the accelerator throttle position and ensures the correct power is sent. With the current, incorrect factory settings, affected cars may send too much power through certain transistors on the power circuit boards of the ECU in question, causing them to be subjected to higher than normal thermal stresses.
In extreme circumstances, Toyota explains, those transistors can become damaged, leading to the ECU to malfunction and power down for its own safety.
“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,” Toyota says in its official recall notice.
Owners of the affected vehicles will be contacted by first-class mail in the coming days, with Toyota dealers reprogramming the ECUs of affected vehicles free of charge as part of an official voluntary recall program.
Concerned owners can contact Toyota’s customer service free of charge on 1-800-331-4331 in the U.S., or find out more information at NHTSA’s safercar.gov website. Customers in Europe and Asia can find out more information from their local dealer, or by contacting Toyota’s country-specific customer service centres.
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