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EDITORIAL | Daihatsu Cheating on Safety Tests Can Cost Lives of Passengers

The certification is supposed to confirm that the vehicle complies with safety standards. Toyota, which wholly owns Daihatsu, should be held responsible too.



Inspectors from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism enter the Daihatsu Motor Co, Ltd headquarters in Ikeda City, Osaka Prefecture.

Recently, the issue of Daihatsu Motor Co cheating on certification tests has been in the news. It cheated on tests designed to confirm vehicle safety, which led to the company suspending shipments of all vehicle models it sells domestically and internationally.

A third-party committee was brought in to investigate the issue. Their report confirmed the discovery of 174 new cases of fraud. For example, they found that in side collision tests that simulated accidents, the airbags were activated with the use of a timer. However, they should normally be activated electronically upon impact.

A quiet closed Daihatsu store in Osaka on December 20. (© Sankei by Shigeru Amari)

Furthermore, the number of vehicle models affected by such fraudulent practices has expanded from six to 64. They include brands marketed by other companies, such as Toyota Motor Corporation. The report confirmed that the fabrication of test results began in 1989. Therefore, it has been going on for more than three decades. 

Why is Certification Needed?

Certification tests using pre-established test methods are required for a motor vehicle manufacturer to obtain the "model designation" necessary for mass production. That is done through the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Certification is intended to confirm that the vehicle complies with safety and environmental performance standards. Fraud is a serious act of betrayal that threatens the safety of motor vehicles on the road.

The Daihatsu logo stands out on the company's headquarters in Ikeda City, Osaka Prefecture, on December 21. (© Sankei by Shinnosuke Miyazaki)

On December 21 ministry officials conducted an on-site inspection of Daihatsu's headquarters in Ikeda City, Osaka Prefecture. They sought to confirm the facts of the misconduct to consider administrative penalties. 

Daihatsu president Soichiro Okudaira claimed that there were no problems with continuing to drive the Daihatsu vehicles affected. However, cheating on certification tests could conceivably cost the lives of drivers and passengers. Depending on the content of the inspection, strict administrative penalties, such as cancellation of "model designations," should not be ruled out.

Why This Happened

Considering the reasons why Daihatsu engaged in fraudulent practices, the third-party committee cited "extreme pressure from excessively tight and rigid schedules." They also noted that Daihatsu became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota in 2016. 

Daihatsu President Soichiro Okudaira and Toyota Executive Vice President Hiroki Nakajima bow in apology at a press conference on the suspension of all Daihatsu shipments domestically and overseas due to fraud in crash tests. December 20, 2023 in Tokyo. ((© Sankei by Kanata Iwasaki)

Subsequently, Daihatsu became responsible for overseas production projects of Toyota. This was another factor that led to the emphasis on shortening the development cycle.

Daihatsu's management team, which pushed ahead with accelerated development while blithely unaware of the on-site testing situation, has responsibility. But Toyota too shares grave responsibility for the problem.  

Toyota Group Has Other Recent Issues

Lately, a rash of quality-related issues have surfaced in the Toyota Group. In March 2023 it was learned that Hino Motors Ltd had been falsifying fuel efficiency data in national certification tests. It is a truck making subsidiary of Toyota. 


Then, in April 2023, Toyota Industries Corporation was hit with administrative penalties for fraud related to forklift engine emissions.

Why this series of irregularities within the Toyota Group? Toyota must investigate the causes. Then it must take effective measures to prevent the recurrence of such practices. 

Toyota must realize that this series of fraudulent activities is very much its problem. 


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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