It is a “customer satisfaction campaign,” said Paul Nolasco, a spokesman for the Toyota Motor Corporation.
Mr. Nolasco says the problem — a pump malfunction — causes the hybrid system in the Prius to shut off to prevent overheating. The gas engine then kicks in to propel the car hire. Such a malfunction, Mr. Nolasco explained, did not warrant a recall under regulations where the vehicles are sold.
The pumps are in 2004-7 model year cars, and out of the 650,000 affected vehicles, 390,000 are in North America. The rest are in Japan and Europe.
Owners who have already had the problem fixed can get reimbursed by Toyota. There were reports of 300 problems in Japan and 28 elsewhere (and none related to an accident).
According to Reuters, Toyota has recalled about 14 million vehicles worldwide, including about 11 million in the United States, since last November.