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Toyota Hit by Double Safety Probe Blow, Shares Slump

A safety scandal at its small-car unit Daihatsu that goes back decades and a 1.12-million vehicle recall over an air bag fault sparked a stock dive for the Japanese auto giant

Japan's Toyota Motor Corp posted a worse than expected plunge in profit of 25% on Tuesday, as the carmaker battles a persistent shortage of semiconductors.
The Toyota logo is seen at the Auto Shanghai show in Shanghai, China, 2021. Photo: Reuters


Toyota Motor shares slumped on Thursday after it was hit by a double blow as Japan’s transport ministry probed a subsidiary over safety concerns dating back decades, and as the world’s top-selling automaker separately announced a recall of 1.1 million vehicles.

Shares in Japan’s biggest automaker closed down 4.0%, underperforming the benchmark Nikkei average, which fell 1.6%.

A day earlier, Toyota’s small-car unit, Daihatsu Motor, said it would halt shipments of all of its vehicles indefinitely after discovering more safety-inspection irregularities.


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An independent committee said it had found issues involving 64 models, including almost two dozen sold under Toyota’s brand. The panel had been investigating the unlisted automaker after it said in April that it had rigged side-collision safety tests carried out for 88,000 small cars.

Daihatsu said on Wednesday it did not know when it would resume shipments, but that the impact on its earnings would be substantial.

Analysts said the impact on Toyota’s earnings would likely be limited given the parent company’s size. A one-month suspension of production, for example, would equal 120,000 vehicles and translate to a revenue reduction of 240 billion yen ($1.68 billion) for Toyota, Nomura auto analyst Masataka Kunugimoto wrote in a report.

A bigger impact could be on Daihatsu’s suppliers. The company’s supply chain in Japan comprises 8,316 companies that made 2.21 trillion yen in annual sales from Daihatsu, Teikoku Databank said in a report.

Shares in parts manufacturer Metalart, which has strong ties with Daihatsu, plunged 10%.


Daihatsu Rival’s Boost

Daihatsu’s infraction drew criticism from the government, with the transport ministry saying it would consider administrative penalties including revoking Daihatsu’s production certification depending on the outcome of its investigation.

“This is an extremely regrettable case that undermines the trust of automobile users and is a misconduct that affects the very foundation of the automobile certification system,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

Daihatsu has said it would consider financial support and damages for its suppliers.

Separately, Toyota said it would recall 1.12 million vehicles worldwide, mainly in the United States, to fix a faulty sensor that could cause air bags to not deploy as designed.

Shares in Toyota affiliate and parts supplier Aisin, which manufactured those sensors and is a major supplier for Daihatsu, lost 3.9%. Stocks of Suzuki Motor, Daihatsu’s main rival in Japan’s mini-vehicle market, rose 2.1%.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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