US Safety Regulators Probe Toyota Prius Complaints

Regulators said that in more than 85 percent of the complaints it was said the Prius stalled between 35 and 65 mph.

Published: 02-Jun-2005

INGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - The U.S. government is investigating Toyota Motor Corp.'s popular Prius gasoline-electric hybrid sedan over complaints about sudden engine stalling, safety regulators said on Wednesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary evaluation this week of 2004 and 2005 model year Prius cars -- roughly 75,000 vehicles -- after receiving 33 complaints about engine problems, some of which occurred at highway speeds.

"All of the complaints reported that the (combustion) engine shut down suddenly without warning," according to a summary of complaints prepared by highway safety investigators. All but five involved 2004 model year vehicles.

The second-generation Prius, equipped with Toyota's new gasoline-electric hybrid system, is now the auto maker's third-best selling passenger car in the United States, and its runaway success has convinced some rivals such as Ford Motor Co. to follow Toyota's lead into the hybrid market.

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