Japan’s car safety test scandal widens as Toyota and Mazda halt shipments

“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,” Toyoda, the grandson of the automaker’s founder and its former CEO, told a press conference.

He said the cars did not go through the correct certification process before being sold. The world’s biggest vehicle maker by volume said it temporarily halted shipments and sales of three car models made in Japan.

The scandals at the vehicle makers are proving to be a sore point for the government, which has otherwise earned praise from investors and executives for its corporate reforms.

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

Toyota said its wrongdoing occurred during six 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 was still investigating issues related to vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions, and aimed to complete that inquiry by end-June.

It added no performance issues 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.

Mazda 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%.

Yamaha said it had halted shipments of a sports motorcycle.

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


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