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Toyota, Honda in the Net as Japan Safety Test Scandal Worsens

Japanese officials have ordered Toyota, Mazda and Yamaha to suspend shipments of some vehicles for submitting incorrect or manipulated safety test data


The logo of Toyota Motor is seen on a steering wheel inside a Vios model at the 39 Thailand International Motor Expo in Bangkok, Thailand
The logo of Toyota Motor is seen on a steering wheel inside a Vios model at the 39 Thailand International Motor Expo in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: Reuters

 

Japanese officials said on Monday they had found irregularities in safety tests undertaken by several more of the country’s top carmakers, including the world’s biggest auto-seller Toyota.

Japan’s transport ministry said automakers Toyota, Mazda, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha Motor had been found to have submitted incorrect or manipulated safety test data when they applied for certification of the vehicles.

The development marks the worsening of the scandal that came to fore in Japan last year, after Toyota affiliate Daihatsu was found to have rigged safety tests for more than 88,000 vehicles. Daihatsu suspended all shipments in December.

 

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On Monday, Japanese officials ordered Toyota, Mazda and Yamaha to suspend shipments of some vehicles as well. Transport ministry officials will now conduct an on-site inspection at Toyota’s central Aichi prefecture headquarters on Tuesday.

“As the person in charge of the Toyota Group, I would like to sincerely apologise to our customers, to car fans, and all stakeholders for this,” chairman Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder, told a press conference.

He said the cars did not go through the correct certification process before being sold. Toyota said it temporarily halted shipments and sales of three car models made in Japan.

Meanwhile, Japan’s top government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi called the misconduct “regrettable”.

 

Issue to weigh on Toyota AGM

Toyota said its wrongdoing occurred during six different tests conducted in 2014, 2015 and 2020. Affected vehicles were three production models – the Corolla Fielder, Corolla Axio and Yaris Cross – and discontinued versions of four popular models, including one sold under the Lexus luxury brand.

In one example, it had measured collision damage on one side of a model’s bonnet while it was required to do so on both sides.

In other instances, it said it conducted certain tests through development testing under more strict conditions than those set out by the ministry that did not meet the government’s requirements.

Toyota said it is still investigating issues related to vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions, and aimed to complete that inquiry by the end of June.

It added there were no performance issues that violated regulations and customers did not need to stop using their cars.

Toyota shares closed down 1.8%, underperforming a 0.9% gain in the broad Topix index.

Monday’s developments are also likely to heighten focus on Toyota’s annual general meeting later this month. Influential proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis have recommended shareholders vote against re-electing Toyoda as chairman at the meeting.

In a report to shareholders, ISS singled out the “spate of certification irregularities” at the Toyota Group.

 

Mazda in hot water

Meanwhile, Mazda also suspended shipments of its Roadster RF sports car and the Mazda2 hatchback from Thursday last week after finding workers had modified engine control software test results, it said in a statement.

It also found crash tests of the Atenza and Axela models, which are no longer in production, had been tampered with by using a timer to set off airbags during some frontal collision tests, instead of relying on an on-board sensor to detect a hit.

Mazda shares fell 3.3%.

In related reports, Yamaha said it had halted shipments of a sports motorcycle.

And Honda said it had found wrongdoing in noise and output tests over a period of more than eight years to October 2017 on some two dozen models that are no longer being produced.

 

  • Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena

 

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Toyota Eyes 10.3 Million 2024 Production Target, Hybrid Boost

Toyota Hit by Double Safety Probe Blow, Shares Slump

Japan Gives Toyota $841m to Drive Domestic EV Battery Output

Toyota Plans Expanded Electric Vehicle Line-up for Europe

 

Vishakha Saxena

Vishakha Saxena is the Multimedia and Social Media Editor at Asia Financial. She has worked as a digital journalist since 2013, and is an experienced writer and multimedia producer. As a trader and investor, she is keenly interested in new economy, emerging markets and the intersections of finance and society. You can write to her at [email protected]

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