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Japan's auto-testing scandal deepens, resulting in some shipment halts

Japan\'s auto-testing scandal deepens, resulting in some shipment halts_f0419017_01514217.jpg

Toyota Motor and four other Japanese automakers have admitted to the falsification of testing data or improper testing.

The infractions are many — including the submission of false data, rewriting of engine-control software, false entries in test reports, conducting tests under inappropriate conditions and improper modification of test vehicles in crash tests.

Investigations are ongoing at a number of companies. The exact nature of the possible investigations and their severity remains unclear, while vehicle performance and safety are likely unaffected.

A total of 38 models — six currently on the market and 32 discontinued — from five companies were covered in the disclosures.

Shipments have been halted for those still in production.

Toyota has already suffered scandals over certification tests by its group firms, but now the automaker has said the company itself has found that it did not follow the rules in some cases.

In a statement, Japan's largest carmaker said that a number of models “were tested using methods that differed from the government standards,” but added that the vehicles have “no performance issues that contravene laws and regulations.”

Toyota had previously described its certification process, which involves inspections to ensure vehicles meet critical safety requirements, as enabling customers to “drive their vehicles with peace of mind.”

Attending a news conference, Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda apologized.

This misconduct “rocks the foundation of the certification system itself, so this is something that we must refrain from doing as a carmaker,” he said.

In the wake of earlier testing issues identified at Toyota group companies, Toyoda had in January vowed to reform group companies and their governance by “leading the transformation efforts as the person responsible for the group.”The transport ministry will carry out inspections at Toyota's headquarters on Tuesday and take “strict measures” based on its investigations.

The company has halted shipments of its Corolla Fielder, Corolla Axio and Yaris Cross models.

Toyoda reiterated on Monday that he will spearhead the reforms within the Toyota Group and work closely with group companies.
Toyoda reiterated on Monday that he will spearhead the reform within the Toyota Group and work closely with group companies. | AFP-JIJI

In addition to Toyota, Honda Motor, Mazda, Yamaha Motor and Suzuki Motor have also admitted to testing issues.

They will also be subject to inspections.

Mazda disclosed on Monday that engine tests were improperly conducted on its Roadster RF and Mazda 2 models. Shipments of both models were suspended on May 30.

It added that collision tests had been falsified for three discontinued models — the Atenza, Axela and Mazda 6.

"We will make a companywide effort to prevent such incidents from happening again by addressing the issues and problems revealed by this investigation, and will work hard to restore everyone's trust in us," Mazda CEO Masahiro Moro said at a news conference on Monday.

Yamaha has admitted to testing irregularities for its YZF-R1 sports motorcycle, a current model.

Honda reported faulty testing and results for 22 of its discontinued models.

At an evening news conference, Honda officials apologized for conducting tests improperly and not repeating tests for different vehicle models.

"We take this matter very seriously. ... We deeply apologize," CEO Toshihiro Mibe said, before bowing deeply.

Mibe said that while Honda had carried out investigations in the past, it had probed what it took to be a representative sample of cases, which meant the company hadn't discovered issues earlier.

The company now has more rigorous documentation and enhanced compliance processes in place, but this will be enhanced and digitized, Mibe said.

Meanwhile, Suzuki reported similar tampering involving one model.

Although Monday's revelations will likely spark scrutiny of automakers' practices, they might also facilitate discussion on the certification test system itself.

In some of the inappropriate test cases identified, engineers actually made test conditions more severe than those required by regulations in an apparent bid to achieve greater confidence in the safety of the vehicles.

For instance, to test the risk of fuel leakage in the even of a rear-end collision, Toyota used a 1,800 kilogram cart — heavier than the legal standard of 1,100 kg.

Asked if there was a gap between the regulatory standards and front-line workers when it comes to ensuring safety, Toyoda said he thought there was.

Since Toyota still violated the rules, “I'm not in a position to say this loudly, but taking this as an opportunity, it would be good if the government and automakers could start discussing how they can fill that disparity in the certification test system.”

Monday's revelations follow an earlier investigation into Toyota manufacturers related to previous certification failures.

In January, Toyota said it would suspend shipments of select models due to certification irregularities for the engines made by Toyota Industries.

At the time, Toyota Industries President Koichi Ito blamed a lack of communication and “not enough coordination about testing processes and procedures that should have been followed.”

In December last year, the offices of Daihatsu, another Toyota group automaker, were raided by government officials after it was revealed that the manufacturer had falsified collision-safety test records dating back to the 1980s, including passenger safety tests such as those relating to the deployment of airbags.

The transport ministry ordered 85 automakers in the country to inspect and report possible falsified test results.


FROM: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/business/2024/06/03/companies/toyota-safety-misconduct/


by alexandregsa | 2023-12-11 11:27 | Business

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