TOKYO Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) is recalling about 242,000 gas-electric hybrid vehicles worldwide, including the bestselling Prius model, due to a brake design flaw, the automaker said on Wednesday.
Toyota is recalling the Prius produced between March and October 2009, and the Lexus HS 250h made between June and October 2009, spokeswoman Shino Yamada said.
The recalled vehicles could experience greater stopping distances when braking because of a mechanical design flaw in a brake part, Yamada said.
That part, the brake pressure accumulator, could crack with fatigue and release nitrogen gas into the brake fluid, she said, adding that no accidents, injuries or deaths have been reported as a result of the defect.
Toyota is recalling 113,550 Prius vehicles in Japan. In the United States, it is recalling 81,570 Prius cars and 5,030 of the HS 250h, Yamada said.
The company will exchange the faulty part with a new one, which will take around three hours, she said.
In 2010, Toyota, an leader in gas-electric hybrid technology, recalled 433,000 hybrid vehicles including the Prius and HS 250h because of a braking software glitch.
In a gas-electric hybrid vehicle, a battery captures energy from the brakes to supplement the combustion engine, boosting overall mileage, particularly in stop-go city traffic.
As of end March, the company had sold about 5.1 million hybrid vehicles globally, including 3.6 million Prius vehicles, since it went on sale in December 1997.
(Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)