Daihatsu Irregularities: Acts of Misconduct Shake National Certification System

Daihatsu Motor Co.’s fraudulent safety tests have led to the revocation of government-issued type certificates that are necessary for the carmaker to mass-produce vehicles.

Daihatsu, together with its parent company Toyota Motor Corp., must take all possible measures to reform its corporate culture.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has announced that it will revoke type certificates for three truck models: Daihatsu’s Gran Max, Town Ace — produced by Daihatsu and branded as a Toyota — and Bongo, sold under the Mazda Motor Corp. brand.

In its type certification system, the government examines whether each vehicle model meets safety and other standards before the model is put on the market. Once a carmaker obtains a type certificate, it can skip the government’s inspections of individual vehicles, provided that the manufacturer tests them appropriately.

Of all the penalties related to type certificates under the Road Transport Vehicle Law, revoking certification is the most severe one. Daihatsu needs to take the situation seriously.

In December, Daihatsu announced that it had found irregularities in safety tests for 64 models that were conducted to obtain type certificates.

For the three models for which type certificates are to be revoked, a timer was improperly used in the crash tests to trigger airbags that should have been activated electronically upon detection of an impact. This is a nefarious act that demeans automobile safety. It is only natural that the company has been severely punished.

Sales of the three models will not be possible until Daihatsu regains the certificates. Regarding the vehicles that had already been sold, the carmaker said it has retested the models to confirm their safety and that there are no problems, but customer concerns cannot be dispelled.

Including other products that were tested improperly, Daihatsu should establish a system to respond sincerely to customer inquiries and requests for inspections.

Transport minister Tetsuo Saito harshly criticized Daihatsu for the misconduct, saying, “It fundamentally undermines the credibility of type certificates and damages trust in Japan’s manufacturing industry.”

The ministry has also issued a correction order to Daihatsu under the Road Transport Vehicle Law. The order requires the company to compile and report on measures to prevent a recurrence, such as eliminating its corporate culture that suppresses employees from expressing opinions to superiors. Taking effective measures is imperative.

Toyota Group companies have had a spate of irregularities at manufacturing sites. Subsidiaries Hino Motors, Ltd. and Toyota Industries Corp. have had their engine type certificates revoked. Together with Daihatsu in the latest case, these three companies in the Toyota Group are the only makers that have been subjected to this punishment.

Toyota President Koji Sato has announced his intention to revamp Daihatsu’s management structure. It is hoped that he will show a firm determination to eradicate the irregularities and to review the group’s governance structure.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 22, 2024)