Daihatsu Halts Production Amidst Safety Testing Scandal

Daihatsu Halts Production Amidst Safety Testing Scandal | The Enterprise World

(Source – China Daily)

In a significant blow to Japanese automaker Daihatsu, the last operational domestic factory suspended production on Tuesday as the company grapples with a safety testing scandal impacting 64 models spanning over three decades. The crisis emerged in April when Daihatsu Halts Production, a subsidiary of Toyota, admitted to manipulating crash test data for four models produced in Thailand and Malaysia from 2022 to the present.

Daihatsu Halts Production: All the blame is on the management

This acknowledgment unraveled a more profound issue within the company, revealing widespread falsification across its entire production process dating back to 1989. Daihatsu CEO Soichiro Okudaira, speaking at a Tokyo press conference last week, expressed regret, stating, “We betrayed the trust of our customers. All the blame is on the management.”

On December 20, Daihatsu announced a suspension of shipments for all models, initiating further investigations and safety checks. Preliminary findings indicate that the pressure to shorten vehicle development time likely led to compromising safety checks. Makoto Kaiami, head of the investigating panel, highlighted the immense pressure on employees, as altering sales schedules due to test failures was deemed unacceptable.

The major safety concern identified by Daihatsu halts production is doors that may become difficult to open from the outside after an accident, although no injuries related to this issue have been reported. Production suspension is expected to last until at least the end of January, impacting 9,000 workers and over 8,000 suppliers. Last year, Daihatsu halts production and produced approximately 870,000 vehicles in Japan, with a supply chain valued at around 2.2 trillion yen (US$15 billion).

Negotiations with unions and suppliers regarding compensation are ongoing while production remains halted. Daihatsu, founded in Osaka in 1907 and acquired by Toyota in 1967, faces a challenging road ahead as it seeks to regain customer trust and address the fallout from the scandal.

While Japanese cars are generally renowned for their safety and reliability, the automotive industry in the country has not been immune to scandals. In 2004, Mitsubishi Motors admitted to covering up defects dating back to 1977, marking one of Japan’s worst corporate scandals. Similar issues later surfaced at its subsidiary, Fuso Truck and Bus.

Accelerator pedals and subsequent accidents

Several other Japanese automakers, including Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, Subaru, and Yamaha Motors, faced inspection and data-tampering scandals between 2017 and 2018. Toyota, Daihatsu’s parent company, paid a record $1.2 billion settlement to the US Justice Department in 2014 over claims related to accelerator pedals and subsequent accidents. Despite extensive investigations, no mechanical fault was found, with driver error being the likely explanation for the crashes. The industry’s history of such incidents underscores the ongoing challenges companies face in maintaining public trust and ensuring the safety of their vehicles.

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