Archive for November, 2010

Toyota to fix 650,000 Prius hybrids for heat risk

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Finance News

DETROIT/TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp will pay to fix about 650,000 Prius models worldwide for a coolant pump glitch that could cause the top-selling hybrid to overheat and lose power, the automaker said.

The repair campaign covers Prius cars for the model years 2004 to 2007. The bulk of the cars, or 378,000 units, are in the United States.

The Japanese automaker said it had not received any reports of accidents or injuries from problems with the pump, which circulates coolant for the hybrid system.

Major automakers, including Toyota, often conduct repair campaigns that are separate from safety recalls filed with U.S. regulators in cases where they determine that a defect does not present a safety risk.

Toyota said the design of the electric water pump let air bubbles enter the system, slowing coolant circulation and allowing the hybrid's components to heat up.

The heating up of the components could trigger a warning light. If left unattended, the Prius could overheat and drop into a "fail-safe" mode where engine power would be reduced, Toyota said.

Toyota said it would begin notifying owners of the Prius repair campaign in the United States in early December.

The automaker has used a different pump design on the Prius hybrid since that time and uses a different type of pump for other hybrids, Toyota spokesman John Hanson said.

Toyota will cover the cost of the repairs, including more than $100 in labor for each Prius fixed at a U.S. dealership.

The repair campaign on one of the best-known Toyota vehicles comes at the end of a year in which the top global automaker has struggled to distance itself from a damaging series of recalls and concerns about its quality management.

Since last November, Toyota has recalled about 14 million vehicles worldwide, including about 11 million in the United States.

(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki and David Bailey in Detroit; Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Joseph Radford)

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Apple’s iPad goes on sale in S.Korea

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Finance News

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SEOUL (AFP) – Apple's iPad went on sale Tuesday in South Korea, three weeks after the local giant Samsung Electronics launched its rival tablet computer the Galaxy Tab in its home market.

One hundred invited preorder customers, anxious to get their hands on the popular new gadget, lined up before dawn at a downtown Seoul branch of wireless operator KT, the sole Korean partner for iPhones and iPads.

First in line was Lee Jun-Young, 39, who slowly unwrapped the box with a wide grin on his face, then raised his iPad high above his head.

"I love it. I've waited for the iPad for such a long time," Lee, who said he also has an iPhone 4, told the newspaper Money Today. "I plan to use the iPad on my way to work and at home to study English."

KT said it had received 50,000 preorders for the iPad since November 17.

"We've started distributing it nationwide. Customers are receiving their preordered iPads at the moment," said KT spokesman Ham Young-Jin.

The company earlier announced the popular gadget would start selling at 218,000 won (192 dollars) with a two-year contract, rising to 865,000 won for models with additional features.

Samsung Electronics, the biggest rival of Apple, has already introduced its seven-inch screen Galaxy Tab in the United States and Italy and aims to sell over a million units globally by the end of this year.

Apple has sold over seven million iPads worldwide since its January debut.

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Toyota fixing coolant pump in Prius globally

Monday, November 29th, 2010 | Finance News

TOKYO – Toyota is fixing the pump that cools the hybrid system in 650,000 Prius cars — the Japanese automaker's prized green vehicle — but is adamant the repair being carried out worldwide isn't another recall.

Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Paul Nolasco said Tuesday the coolant pump in Prius cars for model years 2004 through to 2007 is being replaced because it doesn't work properly.

But the Japanese automaker is calling the move a "customer satisfaction campaign" because the problem doesn't warrant a recall under regulations where the vehicles have been sold, according to Nolasco.

Of the Prius cars that need fixing, 390,000 are in North America and 180,000 are in Japan. The problem affects 70,000 Prius vehicles in Europe.

The problem with the Prius, which is closely associated with Toyota's reputation for innovative technology, is the latest embarrassment for the world's No. 1 automaker, which has recalled more than 11 million vehicles globally since late last year.

The massive recalls cover a wide range of models for various problems, including faulty gas pedals, floor mats that can trap accelerators, defective braking and stalling engines.

The popularity of the Prius in Japan had been one bright spot in Toyota's performance, although worries remain that its image in North America has not recovered from the recalls. The hybrid was Japan's best-selling car for the 18th straight month in October, even after green vehicle subsidies ended.

The Prius switches back and forth between a gasoline engine and an electric motor to deliver better mileage than conventional cars. The latest problem affects the core hybrid system.

Toyota said there have been no reports of accidents related to the coolant problem, but 300 problems were reported in Japan, and 28 outside of Japan. It was not immediately clear when owners were being notified to bring their cars in for repair.

Toyota is the only major automaker whose U.S. sales have been sluggish despite a recent onslaught of incentives that have boosted other automakers' results — underlining how its once sterling image continues to be tarnished in that crucial market.

Toyota faces hundreds of lawsuits in the U.S., many from families of people who died or were injured in accidents related to unintended acceleration suspected of being linked to the quality lapses.

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