Toyota (TM) has announced a recall of its 2010 model Prius, the market leader in the global hybrid car sector. The company says that a software glitch causes a brake problem in the car and that the trouble is not a safety issue. Ford (F) recently recalled its Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids for software upgrades in their brake systems.
The hybrid got a good name among drivers who wanted fuel efficiency and environmentally friendly vehicles. Brake problems in many of the category’s cars may undercut the demand for hybrids and sales may take years to recover.
It may be obvious but still worth noting that people will generally put their own safety ahead of saving money on gas or helping to cut gases that hurt the enviroment and melt the polar ice caps. Very few people live above the circles that surround the Arctic or Antarctic regions. None of those people is likely to be a hybrid customers.
Hybrid vehicles have a high-profile because they have been in the vanguard of a generation of cars which can get high miles per gallon on gas but still offer the performance of a gasoline fueled car. That image may be so badly damaged that consumers will skip the hybrid and wait for electric cars. It is possible that the brakes will work on vehicles run off a battery.
Douglas A. McIntyre