Toyota may supply independent mechanics with parts and instructions for repairing, but not replacing, potentially faulty inverters on certain 2014 Prius models, Green Car Reports has learned.
According to Automotive Career Development Center founder Craig Van Batenberg, Toyota for the first time has released parts for mechanics to potentially fix the inverters. According to Van Batenberg, the inverters may fail around 150,000 miles and it's not clear if an earlier recall that attempted to fix the inverters with software changes was effective.
The potentially faulty inverters and their fixes are part of a lawsuit filed against Toyota by a dealer who said the failed units put drivers and passengers' lives "needlessly at risk," and who refuses to sell used Priuses he takes on trade from those model years.
2010 Toyota Prius hybrid system indicator
In a statement to Green Car Reports and the Los Angeles Times, Toyota fired back at the dealer, Roger Hogan.
"Ultimately, we believe Mr. Hogan is pursuing his Prius recall remedy allegations to advance his $100 million lawsuit against Toyota, take the focus away from his dealerships’ poor performance and blame Toyota for his son’s failure to meet basic qualifications to serve as a general manager at one of his dealerships," Toyota spokesman Victor Vanov said in a statement.
Vanov did not comment on whether Toyota was providing parts and instructions to outside mechanics for the inverter.
At issue are potentially faulty power inverters on certain Prius models that could overheat. Toyota issued a recall in 2014 for those models and attempted to fix the issue with a software update that would mitigate the amount of power flowing from the electric motors to the battery.
In the recall, Toyota said the Prius inverters could fail and force the vehicle into a "limp" mode that would limit speed. Hogan, and others, have alleged that the failed inverters would cut power in the Prius and the LA Times reported on two instances that disabled cars may have resulted in injuries.
The Times reported that Toyota was taking the unusual step of requiring dealers to send failed inverters to an engineering firm it used to investigate unintended acceleration claims in 2010. Toyota was eventually fined $1.2 billion by safety officials for the claims and injuries.
Eric Evarts contributed to this report.