As Japan’s car safety scandal grows, Toyota suspends some deliveries

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A Daihatsu factory in western Japan, pictured on December 25, 2023, when Toyota’s small car unit announced it would suspend production at all domestic plants due to a safety testing scandal.

Tokyo The safety testing scandal at Japanese automakers deepened on Monday, with Toyota Motor and Mazda both halting deliveries of some vehicles after Japan’s Transport Ministry discovered irregularities in certification applications for some models.

Irregularities were also found in the applications of Honda (HMC), Suzuki and Yamaha Motor, the ministry said. Automakers were found to have submitted incorrect or manipulated safety test data when applying for vehicle certification.

The ministry ordered Toyota (TM), the world’s largest automaker in terms of number of vehicles sold, Mazda and Yamaha suspend shipments of certain vehicles.

The latest revelations came after the ministry requested automakers in January to investigate certification applications following a safety testing scandal at Toyota’s Daihatsu compact car unit that erupted last year.

Monday’s developments are also expected to focus attention on Toyota’s annual general meeting to be held later this month. Influential proxy advisory firms Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis recommended shareholders vote against the re-election of Akio Toyoda as chairman of the meeting.

In a report to shareholders, ISS pointed to the “wave of certification irregularities” within the Toyota group.

Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder, told reporters on Monday: “As the head of the Toyota Group, I would like to sincerely apologize to our customers, car fans and all stakeholders for this .”

He said the cars didn’t leave through the appropriate certification process before being sold. Toyota said it had temporarily halted shipments and sales of three Japanese-made car models.

Scandals at automakers are proving to be a sore point for the Japanese government, which has otherwise earned praise from investors and executives for its corporate reforms. Government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi called the mistake “regrettable”.

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

In one example, the company had measured crash damage on one side of a model’s hood when it was required to do so on both sides.

Toyota too said it was still investigating issues related to fuel efficiency and vehicle emissions and aimed to complete that investigation by the end of June.

He added that there have been no performance issues contrary to regulations and customers have not needed to stop using their car.

Toyota shares closed 1.8% lower, in contrast to a 0.9% gain in the broad Topix index.

Mazda suspended shipments of its Roadster RF sports car and Mazda2 sedan from Thursday last week after finding that workers had altered engine control software test results, it said in a statement.

He also found that crash tests of the Atenza and Axela models, which are no longer in production, were falsified by using a timer to trigger the airbags during certain frontal crash tests, instead of relying on an on-board sensor to detect an impact .

Mazda shares fell 3.3%.

Yamaha has announced that it has stopped deliveries of a sports motorcycle.

Honda said it found irregularities in noise and power tests carried out over a period of more than eight years, until October 2017, on around 20 models that are no longer in production.

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