Reuters is reporting today that Toyota will pay to fix about 650,000 Prius models due to a coolant pump glitch that could cause the hybrid to overheat and lose power. The repair campaign covers model years 2004 to 2007. Most of the cars, about 378,000 units, are in the United States.

Toyota is apparently taking every precaution to protect the quality and safety reputation of its hybrids as it prepares to increase the number of gas-electric cars on the market to 11 by 2012. A safety recall has not been issued for the problem. The company said it had not received any reports of accidents or injuries from problems with the pump, but that, if left unattended, the Prius’s hybrid components could heat up, triggering a warning light and a possible reduction in engine power.

Toyota plans to notify owners of the repair campaign in the United States in early December. Later model Priuses, and other Toyota hybrids, use a different pump design, and are therefore not affected.

Toyota says that by 2015, 10 percent of its cars will be hybrids, or nearly 1 million units, based on sales projections. While the company also plans to release some pure electric cars in small numbers, its green strategy is still very much focused on hybrids.
J.D. Power predicts that by 2015, hybrids will outsell electric cars by a factor of three.
“Toyota is the worldwide leader in hybrids right now,” J.D. Power’s Michael Omotoso says. “It wants to maintain that position.”