Hitachi subsidiary found with inappropriate inspections

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Hitachi Astemo Ltd., an automotive parts subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., said Wednesday that it has found irregularities in its pre-shipment inspections and routine checks of brake and suspension parts, including inappropriate operations dating back over 20 years.

The announcement came on top of inspection scandals that involved Hitachi Metals Ltd. and Hitachi Chemical Co., currently Showa Denko Materials Co., in recent years.

At a press conference on the day, Hitachi Astemo CEO Brice Koch apologized for the matter, saying that the significance of routine checks was not fully recognized in the company while stressing that there are no safety problems with products affected by the irregularities.

Affected products have been delivered to a total of 16 automakers and others in Japan and abroad, according to the company.

The company will set up an investigation panel including outside lawyers on the matter and consider punishment for those involved after the panel finishes its probe by mid-2022.

The irregularities have been detected at its plants in the city of Minami-Alps, Yamanashi Prefecture, and the town of Koori, Fukushima Prefecture, through the Hitachi group’s audit activities and reports from employees.

At the Yamanashi plant, there were about 57,000 cases in which routine checks agreed on with clients were not conducted for five brake parts between October 2003 and March 2021.

At the Fukushima plant since at least April 2018, the results of pre-shipment inspections of a total of 10.1 million units of suspension parts were altered, and also off-specification products were shipped. Since January 2019, there had been 259 cases of data alterations in routine product checks.

Hitachi Astemo was created in January this year through the management integration of Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. and three parts makers affiliated to Honda Motor Co.