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Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Daihatsu, a subsidiary of automotive giant Toyota, announced on Wednesday the suspension of all car shipments, both domestically and internationally, following revelations of manipulated safety tests.

An independent panel investigating the matter uncovered a history of malpractice dating back to 1989, raising concerns over the integrity of the company’s safety standards.

Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, expressed profound regret and issued a statement offering “sincere apologies” for the misconduct. Acknowledging the severity of the situation, Toyota pledged to undertake a “fundamental reform” to address the issue comprehensively.

The independent panel, established earlier this year in response to a safety scandal that emerged in April, identified new irregularities in 174 items across 25 test categories. These discrepancies, in addition to those previously detected in April and May, included issues with door parts and side-collision tests.

Daihatsu President Soichiro Okudaira expressed remorse, stating that the misconduct was a “disregard” for the certification process, a critical requirement for automobile manufacturers. Toyota, recognizing the “extreme gravity” of Daihatsu’s negligence, emphasized the need for a temporary suspension of shipments for all Daihatsu-developed models currently in production.

The panel attributed the decades-long irregularities to an “excessively tight and rigid development schedule,” exposing Daihatsu employees to intense pressure to pass crash tests on their first attempt. The mindset of ‘No failure can be forgiven’ was identified as a contributing factor.

With the latest findings, the total number of car models linked to wrongdoing rose to 64, including some sold under the Toyota brand, which will also face suspension. While no accidents resulting from the falsifications have been reported, thorough technical verification is underway.

In response to the revelations, Japan’s transport ministry is set to conduct an on-site inspection of Daihatsu on Thursday. The independent panel also pointed to managerial shortcomings and an opaque work environment as factors contributing to Daihatsu’s misconduct.

This development follows Daihatsu’s admission in April to falsifying crash test results for four models, involving 88,000 vehicles manufactured in Thailand and Malaysia in 2022 and 2023. In May, production halts were announced for two hybrid vehicle models due to similar irregularities, including the Toyota Raize SUV produced on behalf of its parent company.

Toyota emphasized the necessity of a comprehensive review of certification operations and a fundamental reform to revitalize Daihatsu as a company. Founded in 1907 and acquired by Toyota in 1967, Daihatsu’s recent revelations pose a significant challenge to its longstanding reputation in the automotive industry.

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