Testing fraud found at four Japanese automakers

Sales of certain Japanese models, like the Mazda MX-5 RF and Toyota Yaris Cross, have been halted. Four Japanese automakers have been found liable for manipulating testing data. Toyota, Mazda, Suzuki, and Honda say they will do anything to comply and restore customer confidence.

The new fraud scandal follows in the slipstream of the earlier case of Daihatsu, which had been releasing false crash test data since 1989. The company managed to resume production last month, but the mother-holding Toyota faces a painful write-off on its 2024 balance sheet.

Five automakers don’t comply

In the wake of the affair, the Japanese Ministry of Transportation asked 85 companies to investigate similar irregular homologation practices. Five have detected a non-conformity with national standards. In addition to automakers Honda, Toyota, Suzuki, and Mazda, two-wheeler manufacturer Yamaha is involved.

After the report, the authorities started searching the companies’ offices and demanded that sales of the affected models be halted immediately. At Honda, all of these models had been discontinued prior to the report.

For Toyota, most of them are no longer assembled in Japan and are not available in Europe, except for the Yaris Cross and the Lexus RX. However, only the latter is exported, as the first was built locally for the European market in France. The ruling applies to Japanese-type approval, so the European facility continues its operations.

Mazda has temporarily suspended sales and shipment of the MX-5 RF and its city car 2; Suzuki posted irregularities with one model only: the LCV version of the Alto (no longer in production).

“No performance issues”

The fraudulent conduct applies to various sectors, from fiddling with engine software to manipulating crash testing data, as previously surfaced in the Daihatsu case. “After the Daihatsu affair, it is extremely regrettable that other reprehensible acts have come to light, as fraudulent acts undermine user confidence and shake the foundations of the vehicle certification system,” the Ministry of Transportation in Japan stated.

Toyota also issued a statement but avoided terms like the word fraud, claiming “inadequate data” was published on pedestrian safety tests or “errors” in crash testing. To its customers, the company said: “There are no performance issues contravening laws and regulations. Consequently, there is no need to stop using the vehicles concerned.” Together with the other automakers, the company vowed to accelerate efforts to prevent this type of internal incompliant conduct.

As in Europe, automakers in Japan need to meet the type of approvals through their own testing while delivering proof of compliance without independent verification procedures. After mapping the scale of the fraud, the Japanese authorities will impose penalties.


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