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NHTSA Looks Into Possible Prius Software Glitch

Washington DC June 3, 2005; The AIADA newsletter reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Wednesday it looking into reports of a possible software glitch that would force Toyota’s popular Prius hybrid sedan to stall when traveling at highway speeds, reports The Detroit News.

The safety agency says it has received 33 reports of stalled engines in 2004 and 2005 model-year Prius cars -- over 85 percent of those reporting in said the stalling occurred while the car was traveling at highway speeds, or between 35 mph and 65 mph.

Toyota spokesman John McCandless said, "Most owners have not had any sort of problem.” He warned, "It’s too early to determine a specific problem right now. We need some time to investigate." According to McCandless, since the Prius redesign for the 2004 model year, a total of 97,677 of the gas-electric sedans have been sold.

Toyota’s second and third hybrid models, the Lexus 400h and Highlander SUVs, just hit showrooms and the automaker is planning hybrid versions of the Lexus GS and Camry sedans. In the meantime, however, “Industry observers will be watching in the coming weeks to see if more Prius owners emerge with similar stories.

If the complaints don’t grow much beyond what NHTSA and Toyota have already announced, the impact will be minimal, said Jess Toprak, director of pricing and market analysis for Edmunds.com.” Toprak said, "Overall, there will not be a dramatic impact on the demand for this car. The demand is so high."