Certification revoked for 3 Daihatsu cars due to safety scandal

TOKYO: The Japanese government is revoking certification for three Daihatsu Motor Co. vehicles after an investigation found the Toyota Motor Corp. affiliate had been manipulating collision safety test results for decades.

Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito will deliver an order of improvement to Daihatsu president Soichiro Okudaira, the ministry said in a statement today.

The safety certification for three variations of the same car, including the Gran Max, Toyota’s TownAce and Mazda Motor Corp.’s Bongo, were revoked because test results had been tampered with to gain approval, according to the ministry.

This is the government’s first major order since December, when revelations first emerged that most of Daihatsu’s vehicles weren’t properly tested for collision safety.

"This was expected, but it seems unlikely any vehicles besides these three will have their certifications revoked,” said Bloomberg Intelligence senior auto analyst Tatsuo Yoshida.

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The financial burden - of regaining certification, rebooting production and compensating thousands of partners - might be too much for Daihatsu, Yoshida said, in which case Toyota would have to step in to help.

The discovery in early 2023 that a half dozen models might be affected by manipulated test results ballooned into a full-blown scandal last month, when Daihatsu revealed that an internal probe found 174 irregularities across 64 cars dating back as far as 1989.

The Japanese car manufacturer and supplier had suspended domestic operations until the end of January but that deadline could shift as authorities take action, and the extent of the backlash begins to take shape.

Daihatsu, which has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota since 2016, is popular for its lineup of kei cars and other lightweight vehicles popular across Japan and southeast Asia.

Suspending shipments will affect vehicles produced in Japan and overseas, and not only at Toyota factories but possibly also at Mazda and Subaru Corp., given that Daihatsu supplies parts and manufacturing services to a range of other automakers.

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