It has been reported by Japan's Nikkei business daily that Toyota is to recall an estimated 270,000 of its latest-generation Prius in Japan and the US to fix a brake problem in the hybrid car.

US safety regulators opened a formal investigation into consumer complaints about braking on 2010 Toyota Prius hybrids.

The Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it has received 124 complaints about brief braking problems after motorists rolled over bumps or potholes.

Four crashes in the US are believed to have been caused by the brake problems.

Toyota's engineers in Japan said they had fixed a software problem related to anti-lock brakes on the new Prius model.

The company says it expects losses from the recent safety recall to reach €1.45bn by the end of March.

The recall of more than 8m vehicles due to problems with unintended acceleration has wiped €21bn from Toyota's share value.

Toyota Ireland announced this week that it was recalling 26,000 cars to address a potential fault in the vehicles' accelerators.

The recall is for vehicles from eight model ranges, including the popular Avensis, Yaris, Corolla and RAV4.

Over 200,000 vehicles have been recalled in Germany and 180,000 will be returned to the company in Britain.

Toyota once boasted that its cars were 'the best built cars in the world', but that reputation has now been damaged by the mass recall.