UPDATE: The U.S. Transportation Department has opened an investigation into brake problems in 2010 Toyota Prius, according to the Washinton Post.
Hot on the heels of Toyota largest recall ever, the Japanese government today called on Toyota to investigate a number of complaints about the 2010 Prius in North America and Japan, potentially spreading the carmaker's pain to its home country.
"We have been notified by some of our dealers in North America and Japan that customers are contacting them about issues with the brakes," Toyota spokesperson Paul Nolasco told ABC News about the Prius reports. "They experience an inconsistent brake feel when going over bumpy roads, over potholes or slippery surfaces."
You may recall Paul Knight's April 22, 2009, Weekly cover story "Wild Rides," which featured Prius owners sharing horror stories about their cars inexplicably crashing through forests, garage doors and gas stations.
Toyota spokespeople quoted in the story blamed misinstalled floor mats and simple driver error for the wild rides. But now that the U.S. and Japanese governments are applying heat, the world's largest carmaker seems to be taking Prius horror stories more seriously.
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Maybe this is all bad karma. Knight also caught up in his piece with Seal Beal activist Doug Korthof, who was featured in the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? (as well as numerous OC Weekly articles). As an electric-car fanatic, Korthof loathes the Prius.
"They were looking at all different ways to avoid doing the electric car, and one of those was the Prius," Korthof said. "They could say, 'We'll make a car that's a hybrid, and then you won't need an electric car.' The Prius was their way of getting out of the electric car, and it worked."
At what cost, to be determined.