TOYOTA plans to recall about 300,000 Prius hybrids worldwide over a brake problem, it was reported last night.
The recall of the Prius will cover cars that went on sale from May last year until January, and is expected to affect around 7,000 UK owners.
The carmaker will notify authorities in Japan and the United States of its plan over the coming days, Japanese newspapers reported. Toyota has been forced to act following complaints from drivers that they have noticed a change in the "feel" of the brakes when they hit a bump, pothole or low-grip surface.
After a week of unprecedented bad publicity, which has seen the company recall eight million cars worldwide, including 180,000 in Britain, Toyota has been at pains to deny that there are any safety problems with the third generation of its flagship hybrid.
However, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is carrying on with its investigation of the Prius braking system after receiving 124 complaints.
The Prius is the world's top-selling petrol-electric hybrid and its fuel efficiency has drawn intense interest amid concerns about global warming and dependence on fossil fuels.
Despite claims of a recall, the company has an option of a "service campaign" in which the automotive giant would simply notify owners to bring their cars in for repairs.
Last night, Toyota spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi insisted no decision on a Prius recall had been made and Kenji Sugai, an official in Japan's transport ministry section in charge of recalls, said it had not been informed of any such plan by Toyota.
However, the Japanese Kyodo news agency reported that the recall was imminent last night.
Toyota is already reeling from the consequences of complaints from motorists about a sticking accelerator pedal.
In Britain, the fault has led to Toyota recalling seven models: the iQ, Aygo, Yaris, Auris, Corolla, Avensis and Verso.