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Daihatsu Suspends Global Shipments Amid Safety Test Tampering Scandal

Published December 25, 2023
7 months ago

Daihatsu, a subsidiary of automotive giant Toyota, has brought its global car shipments to a decisive halt following alarming revelations of manipulated safety tests. The suspension affects all Daihatsu-developed models currently in production for both domestic and international markets. This move is a response to an investigative panel's findings, which determined that the safety test rigging practices stretched back over three decades, with the earliest incident verified in 1989.

The investigation, prompted by irregularities that initially surfaced in April, was carried out by an independent panel established earlier this year. The panel discovered new anomalies across 174 items within 25 test categories, in addition to the fraud detected in April and May involving door components and side-collision tests. The breadth of misconduct implicates 64 car models in the scandal, some of which are sold under the Toyota brand name, thereby triggering Toyota to join Daihatsu in ceasing shipments.

Soichiro Okudaira, Daihatsu's president, addressed the media with a profound apology, acknowledging the grave oversight of certification processes – a major prerequisite for any automobile manufacturer's operations. Toyota, recognized as the number one carmaker globally, also issued a statement reflecting on the "extreme gravity" of the situation which challenges the core integrity of the company as a car manufacturer.

The external panel has traced the deeply ingrained malpractice to what was described as "an excessively tight and rigid development schedule". According to the committee chair, Makoto Kaiami, employees faced immense pressure to pass crash tests on the first attempt. This unyielding mantra aimed to limit the number of vehicles destroyed during testing, subsequently cutting costs. He characterized the prevailing attitude as an unforgiving environment where failure was not an option.

Despite the disturbing nature of the findings, both firms have indicated that they are currently unaware of any accidents that can be linked to the test falsification. Nonetheless, a comprehensive technical verification process is underway to assess all safety aspects of the affected models.

In conclusion, Daihatsu's drastic response to suspend shipments is a telling sign of the severity of the situation. The company, now under the scrutinizing eye of both the public and government officials, faces the enormous task of regaining trust. As Toyota pledges to introduce "fundamental reform", the automotive industry watches closely, anticipating the wider implications of such a significant breach of ethics and safety standards.

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