Data fraud at hino Motors dates back to 2003: probe report

AP file photo
The first Hino truck assembled in North America is unveiled at the Toyota’s longest operating U.S. manufacturing facility, TABC, Inc. in Long Beach, Calif. on Oct. 19, 2004,.

TOKYO(Jiji Press) — Hino Motors Ltd. released Tuesday an investigative panel’s report clarifying that the Japanese truck maker’s falsification of exhaust emission and fuel economy data dates back as far as 2003.

The third-party committee also revealed that the Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary made a false reply to the transport ministry’s request in 2016 to report whether there had been improper cases concerning engine emission and fuel efficiency tests.

“We deeply apologize for causing much trouble to our customers and other stakeholders,” Hiro President Satoshi Ogiso told a press conference.

“I think the management bears heavy responsibility,” he said, adding that his company will make clear who is responsible for the misconduct and take strict measures.

In a statement, read out by Ogiso, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said it is very regrettable that the data tampering betrays the trust of all stakeholders.

At a press conference the same day, Kazuo Sakakibara, who heads the investigation committee, hinted at the possibility of Hino tampering data even before 2003.

Makoto Shimamoto, a committee member, pointed out that Hino’s “corporate culture and structural environment, part of which are workplace harassments, have greatly to do with the series of misconduct.”

Still, the committee concluded that the management team has not been involved in the misconduct, saying no evidence suggests that the team has been aware of the irregularities.

Given the third-party report, the company plans to draw up a turnaround plan in three months.

Hino is required to compile thorough measures to prevent recurrence of the fraud that continued for nearly 20 years, which looks certain to deal a severe blow to the company’s earnings, critics said.

In March this year, Hino said it had tampered engine exhaust emissions and fuel economy data. At the time, the company claimed that the malpractice started in September 2016 at the latest.

Later that month, the ministry revoked type certificates for four engines involved under the road transport vehicle law, leaving Hino unable to ship buses and trucks with those engines.

But the number of engine types with the tampered data has now expanded to 26 to affect up to some 860,000 vehicles in total. As a result, Hino will be able to ship only one small truck model. In addition, it has to recall at least 20,000 more vehicles than the initially announced 46,000 units.

In the business year that ended in March, the company logged a record group net loss of ¥84.7 billion.