Prius Owners Mostly Unfazed by Recall

On the first day or the announced recall of Toyota Priuses, the reaction from hybrid owners has been remarkably muted. Media reports from around the country reveal that few Prius drivers seem overly concerned about a potential problem with uneven braking. The calm reaction could be explained by the devotion of Prius drivers to their hybrids—or to the Toyota brand—or by the fact that Toyota’s much larger and potentially dangerous recall involving unintended accleration makes the Prius problem seem minor. Or is the public growing weary of the Toyota recall story?

Here’s a random sampling from around the country:


    “Auto industry experts say the brake issue probably won’t have much of an impact on Prius sales. Hybrid owners adore their cars and are far more forgiving than other Toyota buyers. Cleveland filmmaker Bill Laufer said he was willing to give Toyota a pass on this problem. ‘I love this car,’ he said of his 2010 Prius. ‘I absolutely, unequivocally love everything about this vehicle. Philosophically, I think it’s the sort of thing that we should all be driving.'”


    “So am I losing sleep over my Prius? So far, no. Toyota made technical mistakes and apparently fumbled in acting on the problem. But I don’t think I’ve encountered this specific problem, even over potholed roads. Again, my issue is far less serious than the sticking accelerator that Toyota is also dealing with, so I feel fortunate.”


    “Toyota’s announcement Tuesday about recalling the 2010 Prius to update computer software for its brake system didn’t bring a wave of calls to Jacksonville dealerships like Toyota’s earlier recall of eight models for potentially faulty gas pedals. Overall, the sentiment among 30 people contacted by the Times-Union was that the recall wouldn’t stop them from buying a Toyota in the future. The most common complaint among the Toyota owners, who are part of an e-mail list the newspaper uses to get feedback, was that Toyota didn’t move quickly enough to issue the gas pedal recall.”


    “What is the effect of the Toyota recall on the green automobile movement? In the smattering of Toyota owners I’ve talked to, most (at least on the surface) remain strong supporters of the brand. But the car business is a moving target and there are plenty of other brands out there that can claim legitimate ‘turf’ in the world of ‘green” (eco) vehicles…So while Toyota may (or may not) recover from this, all the conversation, and all the other very real, fuel efficient, competitively priced options not only translate into a win for the individual consumer, they collective add up to a win for planet earth.”

Industry Viewpoint

Industry observers generally view the Prius recall as a relatively minor event—one which will not slow down the growth of hybrid and electric cars. Oliver Hazimeh, director of the North American Automotive Practice for consulting firm PRTM, believes the “recall presents a short-term bump in the road regarding consumer perception of hybrid-electric vehicles and [pure] electric vehicles.” Hazimeh published his view on the website Green Car Congress: “There is no question that longer term, the fundamental drivers for increased powertrain electrification are alive and well.”

According to PRTM, hybrid technology has been successfully and robustly used for more than 10 years in other Prius models, as well as in non-Toyota models. PRTM believes that the worldwide tipping point for acceptance of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric vehicles, whereby these vehicles become a major part of the automotive powertrain portfolio, will likely occur in the next few years.

Consumer consideration Prius, as measured by data analysts late last week, actually rose after news of the recall first emerged. “Most Prius shoppers aren’t looking for anything else and are likely to be willing to wait until they feel the problem has been fixed rather than going to another hybrid,” said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis. “We think the recalls will have less effect on the Prius than on any other model, and it really doesn’t look like any of the Toyotas are going to be hit that hard.”

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  • Charles

    < < "Most Prius shoppers aren't looking for anything else and are likely to be willing to wait until they feel the problem has been fixed rather than going to another hybrid," said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis. >>

    There is no real competition for the Prius. If this was the Camry Hybrid, potential customers could buy the Altma or Fusion hybrids.

    I know the Fusion has its own recall and the Altma uses the same hybrid system as the Camry, which would mitigate any Camry hybrid recalls. I believe the mid-size sedan segment is the only segment where hybrids compete with each other.

  • JBob

    Sticking gas pedals is a supplier problem. If its 1 inch too long, break out a saw and shorten it. Prius’s have 2 braking systems, so practically a built in redundancy. As for the news agencies, mostly just cannon fodder.. everyone is going the way of TMZ to get their numbers up.

  • Jeff

    I own a 2010 Prius and I had an incident when my brakes didn’t work properly a couple of months ago (I wrote about it at I’m not parking my Prius nor am I first in line to get this fixed (I’ll wait for the other Big recall to settle down first). While I’m not happy with the way Toyota handled this, assuming they knew about the issue quite a while ago, I am still loyal to the brand and the model. I haven’t lost any sleep over this…I just hope Toyota doesn’t rush to patch the problem but instead has really figured out what it is, how to fix it, and how to move past it.

  • Mr.Bear

    I think there has been a lot of media desire to hype the story. Prius is the “green” flag ship car. Toyota sales have been fairings better than most other manufactures. They have a problem, it’s time to pile on and knock them down a couple pegs.

    I haven’t worried about my accelerator too much. I figure I’ll take it in for it’s recall the next time I need an oil change and get both done at the same time.

  • Electronics Engineer

    It sounds like most of you wouldn’t buy an American made product, even if it was car of the year, or if it was a safer product.

    I like Mr. Bear’s comment about not worrying about the accelerator. He’ll get it, you know, next oil change, maybe in a couple thousand miles. …I tell you what…I wouldn’t worry about changing the pedal either. Does it make sense to anyone that a pedal cannot make you accelerate? It goes against the law of gravity. A floormat being pushed down on the pedal actually makes more sense for accidental acceleration.

    Oh well, aside from those stop and go issues Toyota’s been a great company, that’s forced the American Automotive Manufacturers to be better, and they are.

  • Baltimore Prius Owner

    “It sounds like most of you wouldn’t buy an American made product, even if it was car of the year, or if it was a safer product. ” Electronics Engineer – I think a lot of people agree with your statement. I for one got fed up with GM’s lack of customer service and switched to Toyota (’05 & ’08 Prius). There needs to be a ‘culture change’ within the Big Three in order for them to gain more of the market. It will take a long time to accomplish this.

    BTW – Bob Lutz has got to go. I hold him accountable for most of GM’s failings. Thanks for listening.

  • devin bell

    when you fix this problem will you feel confitdent that it will work.

  • Ozgen

    …I just hope Toyota doesn’t rush to patch the problem but instead has really figured out what it is, how to fix it, and how to move past it.thanks

  • Electrical Engineer

    Ya, Lutz once said global warming was “a total crock.” Great person for GM to hire as an “image saver.” But, he’s not the first outspoken Marine that has spoke on GM’s behalf. There have been a number of thankful, outspoken, men and women in service that are familiar with GM rolling tanks out of the Cadillac assembly plant during WW2. If it wasn’t for the automotive industry, the railroad, and steelmills, we’d have lost that war. That statement comes from a WW2 Army Ranger Vet. It wasn’t that long ago. My grandpa was in the war and he’s still alive.

    Bottom line, I don’t care what Lutz says, He’s more than earned the right to say what he wants. I care about the product. The Ford Fusion I have parked in my driveway is a better product. These companies have been much better for America than they have bad.

    Let me ask you something, “Prius owner from Baltimore,” Were you crying as you typed that GM’s bad customer service drove you to buying a Toyota? Did they hurt your feelings? What was Toyota doing during WW2? What culture change should GM make?

  • DownUnder

    Electrical Engineer,
    Pls don’t go into WW2 again! It won’t help the discussion/debate here.

  • Anonymous

    Ya, this is an article about us Prius owners being unfazed! I have kids I’ll be buying a Prius for.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s food for thought on how far Toyota has been willing to go to maintain their quality reputation. Published by Reuters:

    “While all automakers have employees who handle NHTSA issues, Toyota may be alone among the major companies in employing former agency staffers to do so. Spokesmen for General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Honda Motor Co. all say their companies have no ex-NHTSA people who deal with the agency on defects.”

    The four mentioned in the article went DIRECTLY from NHTSA to Toyota. Having the inside scoop on NHTSA investigations has got to be a great advantage in shutting them down; one that the other manufacturers must have recognized as a moral conflict of interest.

    If this has been going on, why has it not been reported until now? Because no one would have believed it until it couldn’t be denied?

    Working for a competitor to Toyota, I won’t gloat, but I will say it is nice to see that people are finally beginning to look at our cars and see they aren’t made as cheaply as Toyotas, and that our reliability is essentially even. Toyota’s employees are, after all, human.

    This is almost like the Berlin Wall falling. I thought it would never happen.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, the article about Toyota and NHTSA was in Bloomberg, not Reuters.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    You probably shouldn’t be gloating just because your competition shows that they might be just is as bad as you are.
    I agree that hiring former NHTSA people is very close to corrupt. That’s standard practice in most foreign countries.
    The US auto industry on the other hand, used politics approaching corruption to pressure the NHTSA to make all good ideas (seat belts, break-away steering wheels, safety glass, side impact protection, air bags, ABS, etc) mandatory by law. On the front side, this sounds good. On the back side, however, making it mandatory only created higher barriers to entry, thus making it essentially impossible for any new American companies to get into the automobile manufacturing business. A business hiding under the government skirt is an un-American socialistic activity as well so, again, you might want to go easy on your gloating.
    note: I’ve never bought a Toyota so I clearly have no bias toward them. Additionally, however, the last car I bought from one of the American Big 3 was my favorite car ever and it was taken away from me, against my will, then the public was told lies about what I thought about it.
    As far as I’m concerned all of them have let their customers down and have a long way to go before they’ve redeemed themselves. The American companies have also let our country down as one interpretation of Electrical Engineer’s WWII comments goes.
    Ford, at least IMHO, may be on the upswing but it is way to early to tell for sure.

  • Toyota tech

    I work on fixing all the recalled cars that come into the dealership and most people I see aren’t all that concerned about what’s going on, they get to it when they get to it. And now with the Prius brake problem and the supposed Tacoma driveshaft problem, it still doesn’t have an impact on our sales, either. We’re as busy as ever, busier even with the recalls, all these recalls are just made worse by the media. I don’t even consider any of them a big deal, except perhaps the floor mats, which is basically a design flaw.

    Time to move on….

  • AP

    This series of recalls isn’t a matter that Toyota just “moves on” from. The only reason to buy a Toyota before was its stellar quality reputation; certainly not their styling, handling, or performance.

    But they’ve been steadily cheapening their product for years, and now, surprisingly, have real quality problems. Consumer Reports has been much more wary of them over the last couple years, and now these recalls (a new recall for Tacoma today).

    Toyota has successfully suppressed several investigations before, but those might reopen. They have also received special treatment from California regulators. (A former Chrysler calibrator I know said he was describing some work they had to do for a California car, and the Toyota engineer said “They don’t make us do that!”).

    Being a long-time GM employee, I know how these PR things go. Once it’s “alright” to criticize a company, the floodgates open. Toyota must beware, because we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg for complaints and lawsuits. We also know that there is the issue that Wozniak identified that will probably warrant a recall or service program.

    And ex-EV1 driver, don’t worry. No one in the US auto industry is gloating, because the increased scrutiny following this will affect all manufacturers, and every manufacturer is composed of humans. It just took a little longer for Toyota to look human.

    I will only say that they have gotten away with much less criticism and scrutiny than they’ve deserved for years. Now they will probably get more than they deserve.

  • Joellen Hopkins

    I have a 2010 Prius. I’ve already driven it from NM to FL and back with absolutely no brake problems. Actually, I was quite impressed with how well the brakes worked when I first got the car in September. I did take it in for the “fix” and don’t notice anything different in the way the car works. I think this was definitely blown way, way out of proportion.

  • Katy

    Love my 2006 Prius. Nothing wrong with it, everything right as could be. All car manufacturers deal with recalls at one time or another. Tempest in a teapot, probably egged on by US car manufacturers.
    As soon as the US auto industry starts making cars on a par with Toyota and the Prius, their sales will improve, no bail-out required.

  • AP

    Joellen, you shouldn’t notice any difference in braking, unless you’re braking on a rough surface, like going over a manhole cover. Not having experienced it doesn’t mean it won’t happen, so you don’t want to delay getting it fixed. That said, I do think it’s being blown out of proportion.

    Katy, if you knew the automotive business, you’d know that it’s bad Karma to wish bad luck (or bad press) on your competitors, so no, the US manufacturers are not “egging them on.” Toyota is getting more than their share of grief: our press is rabid (as US manufacturers already know), and our Congress likes to puff themselves up so everyone knows they’re “standing up for us.”

    But much of Toyota’s problem is because of their poor handling of the situation. Japanese companies have a hard time admitting when they have a problem, because they’re not supposed to have problems in the first place.

  • David

    People always tend to stay “loyal” to the car brand they are driving, because to say otherwise is to admit that they may have made a poor buying decision. It is a simple ego thing and has little to do with the vehicle at all. David from how to get rid of stretch marks

  • David

    People always tend to stay “loyal” to the car brand they are driving, because to say otherwise is to admit that they may have made a poor buying decision. It is a simple ego thing and has little to do with the vehicle at all. David from how to get rid of stretch marks