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Toyota’s Daihatsu Shuts Japan Plants During Investigation

TOKYO >> Daihatsu, a subsidiary of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp., has shut down production lines at its four factories in Japan while Transportation Ministry officials investigate improper testing for safety certifications.

Tuesday’s shutdown comes a week after Daihatsu Motor Co. announced it was suspending all vehicle shipments in and out of Japan after finding improper testing involving 64 models. That led Department of Transportation officials to launch a deeper investigation into problems that had apparently persisted for decades.

The shutdown is expected to affect thousands of auto parts manufacturers and their employees, potentially dealing a major blow to local economies.

Safety testing irregularities earlier this year sparked an independent investigation, which found widespread and systematic problems at Daihatsu. It’s the latest safety or other violation seen at at least five of Japan’s major automakers in recent years.

So far, no accidents or deaths due to these falsified tests have been reported.

Daihatsu, maker of Hijet trucks and vans and Mira sedans, said it began closing some lines on Monday and that production had stopped at its four plants in Shiga, Kyoto and Oita prefectures as well as its headquarters in Osaka Tuesday.

The company declined to say when production would resume, while media reports said lines would be suspended at least until January.

Daihatsu is Toyota’s unit specializing in small cars and trucks popular in Japan. The company assembled some 870,000 vehicles at its four factories in fiscal 2022.

According to market research firm Teikoku Databank, Daihatsu factories have supply chains comprising 8,136 companies across Japan, with revenue totaling US$2.2 trillion ($15.53 billion).

“The longer the suspension of shipments, the greater the concerns about its impact on business profits, employment and the local economy,” it said in a report.

The problems were found in 64 vehicle models and three engines, including 22 models and one engine sold by Toyota. The problems also affected some Mazda Motor Corp. models. and Subaru Corp. sold in Japan, as well as Toyota and Daihatsu models sold abroad.

Daihatsu’s investigation found 174 new cases of irregularities in safety testing and other procedures across 25 testing categories, in addition to previously reported issues.

The problem surfaced in April when Daihatsu reported incorrect testing of door trims. Problems in side crash tests emerged in May, officials said. They also found data falsification and the use of unauthorized testing procedures.

Speaking to reporters last week, Daihatsu President Soichiro Okudaira admitted cheating on safety tests and procedures, saying it amounted to neglecting safety certificates. He attributed these problems to pressure on workers to meet ambitious requirements on tight development deadlines.

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