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Software glitch forces massive Toyota recall of 625,000 hybrids

A software glitch has triggered another large Toyota recall, according to Reuters*. The glitch is worldwide and affects Prius V minivans, among other models, built between May 2010 and November 2014. The malfunction can shut down the hybrid system, causing the vehicle to go into fail-safe mode or turn off while being driven. The problem is in the software controlling the ECU. The glitch can cause temperatures to rise high enough to damage transistors.
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The recall concerns 625,000 or more cars worldwide, the largest impact in Japan of 340,000 vehicles and at least 109,000 of which are in the United States. And it’s not the first. The Prius was the subject of two other recent recalls, with a staggering 1.9 million recalled in February of last year - also software related.

Toyota has a history of problems when it comes to integrating digital software with mechanical analog technology and its sudden acceleration problem is  legendary in the auto industry. Nevertheless the company has refused to acknowledge that the difficulty is software related, blaming everything from floor mats to sticky accelerators.

While digital technology holds much promise, automotive companies often make the same mistake as software companies, that of turning the customer into a beta tester. Until that problem is solved, modern cars will continue to end up on the side of the road with their hoods up, or worst still cause danger to the car’s occupants,, because of software glitches. Of course, their unfortunate drivers can always wave to the people in the completely analog 1969 VW Beetle, as it goes rolling past.


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