Toyota update: hotlines in meltdown

Toyota mulling Prius recall as thousands of worried UK drivers check for potentially lethal faults on their cars' brakes and accelerators...

The crisis at Toyota deepened yesterday as pressure mounted for it to recall its flagship ‘green’ car, the Prius, over brake problems.

Sources said 270,000 of the petrol-electric hybrids worldwide may have to be checked.

Investigations of the female drivers’ favourite, driven by the likes of Renée Zellweger, have been ordered in the U.S. and Japan although British ministers have not so far followed suit.

The world’s biggest car firm has already recalled eight million vehicles over fears that two separate faults with accelerator pedals have left them unsafe.

Last night it emerged that 270 Toyotas here have been reported as having the potentially lethal fault. Toyota said that it had confirmed 20 cases before announcing the recall, but another 250 were reported in the past week.

The first UK claim of a crash was made yesterday by a solicitor for an unnamed driver in the Midlands. ‘We understand the accelerator became stuck and he suffered injuries as a consequence. My client is receiving medical rehabilitation,’ Ciaran McCabe at the Moore Blatch personal injury practice told the Guardian.

The news has triggered near-panic among owners, with warnings from lawyers that drivers could be prosecuted over crashes in the affected models. More than 10,000 motorists have tried to use Toyota’s hotline and website and many complained lines were jammed.

Jon Williams, commercial director of Toyota GB, said the company was ‘truly sorry’ it had let customers down, but insisted the cars were safe. He said: ‘I drive a Toyota, my family and friends drive Toyotas, and I wouldn’t allow my loved ones to drive our cars if I didn’t believe they were safe.’

Have you experienced any problems with the accelerator of your Toyota? Get in touch with us using the comment box below…

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