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Daihatsu, a Subsidiary of Toyota, Announces Halt on Vehicle Shipments Amid Expanding Safety Scandal

Daihatsu safety scandal
The Pixis Joy, one of the cars affected by the Daihatsu safety scandal / Credit to Toyota

Key Points

  • Daihatsu suspends all vehicle shipments due to a safety scandal involving falsified collision tests.
  • The scandal affects 64 models, including Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru vehicles.
  • Toyota plans fundamental reforms at Daihatsu in response to the crisis.

In a shocking development that’s rattling the automotive industry, Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd, a unit of Toyota Motor Corp, has announced a complete halt on all vehicle shipments. This drastic decision comes in the wake of an expanding safety scandal that has raised serious concerns over vehicle safety standards and regulatory compliance.

A Deepening Crisis

Daihatsu, primarily known for its compact “kei” cars and trucks popular in Japan, has been embroiled in a safety scandal since April when it admitted to manipulating side-collision safety tests. These rigged tests involved about 88,000 small cars, with a majority sold under Toyota’s brand. But recent findings indicate that the problem is more extensive and longstanding than initially believed, implicating 64 models, including several sold under the Toyota, Mazda, and Subaru brands in the domestic and overseas markets.

Toyota’s Stance and the Road Ahead

Toyota, renowned for its commitment to quality and safety, expressed the need for “fundamental reform” to revitalize Daihatsu. This reform, as per Toyota’s statement, will necessitate a comprehensive overhaul, extending beyond management and business operations to include organizational restructuring.

Despite the severity of the situation, Toyota has reported no accidents linked to the issue. However, the financial implications of this scandal are yet to be ascertained, with Toyota’s shares showing a flat response in contrast to a broader market rise.

The Investigation’s Findings

The investigation, prompted by a whistleblower’s report, uncovered that Daihatsu used different airbag control units in tests and in actual vehicles sold. This discrepancy was noted in several models, including Toyota’s Town Ace and Pixis Joy, and the Mazda Bongo. The misconduct extended to false reporting in headrest impact tests and test speeds for some models, dating back to 1989 for one discontinued Daihatsu vehicle.

Japan’s transport ministry is set to conduct an on-site inspection at Daihatsu’s headquarters, as the company faces the prospect of having its regulatory clearances revoked.

Global Impact and Previous Incidents

Daihatsu, which produced 1.1 million vehicles in the first ten months of the year, has a significant presence in Southeast Asia and Central and South America. The halt in shipments will affect markets in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Uruguay.

This is not the first time Toyota has faced safety issues. Past incidents include an engine data scandal at Hino Motors, Toyota’s truck and bus unit, in 2022, and a high-profile safety crisis in 2010 involving faulty accelerators that led Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda to testify before the U.S. Congress.

Looking Forward

As the automotive industry watches closely, the fallout from this scandal raises critical questions about safety standards, regulatory oversight, and the long-term implications for Toyota and Daihatsu’s reputations in the global market. The situation remains fluid, with further developments anticipated as investigations continue and corrective measures are implemented.





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