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Toyota prepares global recall of new Prius model

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp. was preparing a global recall of its new Prius model to be announced Tuesday, according to the Kyodo news agency, further damaging its reputation for quality and reliability on the heels of two other massive recalls.

In addition, Japan's Nikkei newspaper reported that Toyota will halt domestic production of its Sai and Lexus HS250h hybrids, which are to be recalled for faulty brakes, at the end of this week, and for the second time in four days, Kelley Blue Book dropped the resale values of recalled Toyotas.

And, in the apparent first of a potential rush of legal claims over the Prius, the owner of a 2010 Prius has sued Toyota in Los Angeles, claiming the automaker failed to fix a brake defect and seeking a court order requiring a recall.

Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said the automaker was moving toward announcing a remedy for the Prius brake glitch. "We expect to be able to share details of solutions early this week," he said.

Since the launch of the new Prius last May, Toyota has sold about 200,000 of the cars in Japan, 103,200 in the United States and 29,000 in Europe.

As Toyota's North American plants resumed production of eight models involved in an earlier safety recall for sticky accelerator pedals, the world's largest automaker said last night it was recalling the Prius hybrid car in Japan, The Associated Press reported.

The Sai and Lexus production halt is expected to last at least a week, the Nikkei said. U.S. Transportation Department officials had no comment on the latest Prius development out of Japan.

Meanwhile, complaints to U.S. safety regulators about 2010 Prius brake problems have jumped sharply since the Transportation Department announced a formal investigation last week. Several complaint files total more than 1,000 reports from vehicle owners but a partial review of the documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found some duplicates, so the exact number is unclear. NHTSA reported 124 complaints when it opened the investigation on Feb 3.

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