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A growing number of sources, including USA Today and WHIO TV, are reporting that Toyota will call at least 300,000 Toyota Prius models for a defect in the vehicle’s braking system.

Like the multiple Toyota sudden acceleration recalls, it appears that Toyota sat on knowledge of its Prius brake system problem while the defect was affecting customers.

Toyota will likely announce this week that it plans to recall at least 311,000 of its 2010 Prius hybrids around the world to fix the brakes, reports Japanese media and the New York Times.

It will become Toyota’s third major recall at present, following two for unintended acceleration. But at least on this one, at least the numbers are fairly paltry compared to the eight million cars under recall around the world, more than five million of them in the U.S.

A Prius recall hurts, however, because the car has been emblematic of how Toyota differs from other automakers:

It’s a high-volume hybrid that sells at a relatively affordable price, often cited as the kind of vehicle that Detroit should have been building.

Specifically, the complaint is that Prius brakes can momentarily stop working after the car hits a bump. The problem has been blamed for several accidents, but no deaths. Interestingly, Toyota ran a Prius ad during the Super Bowl halftime, at least the feed that runs in Southern California. says it saw an spurt in increase in people researching the Prius on its site last week, possibly indicating they were getting ready to pounce if the Prius’ price drops as a result of the publicity around its troubles.

Toyota just launched an ad campaign claiming it puts you first. Does it really?

As I have documented here for the last several months, Toyota has known about — and ignored — its sudden acceleration problem for more than five years. Instead of acknowledging and repairing this widespread defect, Toyota waited years to acknowledge the defect and instead blamed its own customers. It appears Toyota’s conduct is just more of the same for a company with a documented history of safety-problem cover-ups.

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