Toyota will notify about 75,000 hybrid owners of potential glitch

Toyota is warning of a potential glitch that could cause warning lights in popular Prius hybrids to illuminate, which can prompt the vehicles to enter a "fail safe" mode that may cause their gasoline engines to stall.

Updated: 1:39 p.m. ET Oct. 13, 2005
DETROIT - Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it will notify about 75,000 Prius owners in the United States about a potential software glitch that may cause the popular hybrid cars to suddenly stall or shut down.

Toyota said the problem may cause warning lights in the cars to illuminate. That can prompt the vehicles to enter a "fail safe" mode that may cause their gasoline engines to stall.

Hybrid vehicles twin a gasoline engine with an electric motor and batteries to boost fuel economy.

Toyota spokeswoman Allison Takahashi said that, if the gasoline engine stalls, the electric motor in the vehicles will have enough power to allow the driver to pull the vehicle over and away from the traffic.

The vehicles involved in the Toyota service action are from the 2004 and 2005 model years.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received a number of complaints about the hybrid vehicles stalling or stopping unexpectedly, often on highways.

Toyota will be sending out letters asking customers to take the cars to a dealership for free repairs, Takahashi said.

No recall notice has been issued, she added.

Toyota sold 53,991 Prius cars in 2004 and 81,042 so far this year. There is usually a waiting list to buy the vehicle, which gets as much 60 miles per gallon of gasoline.