Despite Falsified Supplier Data, Japanese Automakers Claim Cars Are Safe

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
despite falsified supplier data japanese automakers claim cars are safe

Kobe Steel, the disgraced Japanese metal supplier, apparently falsified quality data for its products for over 10 years, the company now admits. Some of those products were sheetmetal and aluminum components used by a slew of automakers, among them American, Japanese, French, German, and Swedish manufacturers.

Makers of trains and airliners also made use of the metals, the strength and durability of which is now in doubt. This week, the European Aviation Safety Agency warned against components made by Kobe Steel.

While Boeing and Airbus inspect their aircraft, automakers are doing the same. Ford has said there’s no reason to be concerned, as Kobe product only went into the hood of a Chinese-market sedan. Now, four other automakers have given their vehicles a clean bill of health.

According to Reuters, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda — four of the five Japanese automakers to use Kobe parts in hoods and other exterior components — says tests show the parts are safe. Mitsubishi hasn’t yet issued an all-safe message.

In a statement, Toyota said, “We confirmed that the materials satisfy applicable statutory standards, and our own internal standard, for key safety and durability requirements for vehicles.”

Other automakers impacted by the scandal include General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Volvo, and Hyundai. While Japanese automaker seem okay with what Kobe shipped to their factories, the industry as a whole wonders how it can trust the supplier. In total, 500 companies use Kobe components and materials.

“For a manufacturer, quality control is the most important thing and they were cheating for many years,” one senior industry executive told Reuters. “This was a shock to their customers, who can no longer trust Kobe Steel.”

Kobe’s CEO claims he wants to make right with the industry, starting with discovering how the culture of falsifying quality reports began and spread. Once that’s wrapped up, and all parts identified and inspected, Hiroya Kawasaki says he will resign. Meanwhile, the supplier is bracing for lawsuits even as the company’s stock takes a Volkswagen-like nosedive.

[Image: Toyota]

Join the conversation
2 of 23 comments
  • Fred Fred on Oct 20, 2017

    The real problem will be when these cars get into a wreck, some lawyer is going to find some expert and they will then sue everyone with the slightest connection.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Oct 20, 2017

    Yup, no doubt about it, hoods and trunklids are dangerous when made of Kobe aluminum. And none of the companies buying affected metals have an incoming inspection program or process controls any more. That's so '90s. Of course, there's the matter of making airliner wings out of the out-of-spec stuff. Again, it strains my credulity that companies routinely accept materials with no internal quality assurance inspections. Nissan is supposed to train inspectors for two months to fill in forms that certify a car meets Type Specifications, like having four wheels. They cheated by using inspectors with only 6 weeks training. Mitsubishi Motors is the real bad guy. A scandal in 2001, another one in 2011 on fuel economy falsifications, whereupon much ritual bowing assured authorities it wouldn't happen again. Until 2016, when they were at it again. Still, look on the bright side - now Nissan has semi-bought them out, they can have a fresh look at their own inspection program. Nissan is shutting down for two weeks in Japan on home-market cars while inspectors are trained. Apparently they're getting on-the-job training certifying export cars in the meantime, reading between the lines.

  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.