Celebrities Face Toyota Recalls, Too

2010 Prius CNET / Wayne Cunningham

Toyota took another hit to its reputation this week with the recall of 400,000 hybrid cars, including the 2010 Prius, because of problems with its brakes.

The recall is being felt most in California, where the Prius has been embraced like no other car.

As CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports, Hollywood has lead the way with the green vehicles. From Penelope Cruz to Orlando Bloom, some of Hollywood's biggest stars are using battery power to make their entrance, trading limos for hybrids.

Bloom told CBS News, "Thinking about the car you drive, the water you use, it's little things, but it makes a big difference."

Celebrities, Tracy pointed out, helped make the Prius a household name.

Ruben Aronin, of Global Green USA, a non-profit advocacy group, said, "Celebrities have helped to make this a cool vehicle."

There are so many Prius vehicles in Los Angeles, Tracy remarked, that stars, such as Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan can't always find theirs in the crowd.

Famously, Miley Cyrus was told by a paparazzi photographer, when she tried to unlock someone else's car, "It's the wrong Prius!"

One in every four Priuses in the U.S. is sold in California, according to TrueCar.com, a vehicle information site.

Tracy went to a dealership in Santa Monica, Calif. that sells the most. Now, however, their service center is jammed with recalled cars that need their braking software upgraded.

Billy Rinker, of Toyota of Santa Monica, told Tracy, "Ninety-five percent of our customers understand, like 'Hey, Toyota's going to fix this. I'm not worried.'"

Prius owner Tracy Frank seems unfazed by Toyota's troubles.

"People still buy Tylenol," she said. "I mean, this will be over. It will be gone. It will be forgotten."

California is the largest green car market in the country, Tracy said, adding that the reputation of the Prius in the state can affect sales nationwide.

Auto analyst Jesse Toprak, of TrueCar.com, says the Prius' reputation may fare better than Toyota's other recalled cars because its owners are unusually loyal.

Toprak said, "The image is so distinct to Prius, that's its clearly created some sort of a cult following."

And even with the recalls, Tracy said, some of Hollywood's elite are still expected to go green as they pull up to the red carpet on Oscar night.
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