June 20, 2024

Three of Japan’s top automakers admitted to cheating on tests that ensure their vehicles are safe for consumers, continuing a growing wave of scandals that began with Toyota Motor last year.

Toyota, Honda Motor, and Mazda Motor on Monday all said that internal investigations found that testing on dozens of models has been mishandled over the past decade.

Toyota said its methods differed from those approved by the Japanese government and failed to gather data during pedestrian and occupant safety testing for three models, including the Yari Cross. It also identified issues and errors in crash testing on four discontinued models, including the Isis and Sienta.

Mazda said its investigation found issues in testing that affected more than 149,000 vehicles sold in the domestic market, including the Mazda2 and the Mazda6. Honda discovered improper testing and results for 22 discontinued models.

The automakers said the testing failures would not affect the performance or safety of their vehicles, although Toyota and Mazda are pausing some sales. Toyota is issuing a temporary freeze on shipments of its three affected models, while Mazda is suspending the sale of the Mazda 2 and Roadster RF.

Suzuki Motor and Yamaha Motor also admitted to testing issues as part of separate internal investigations, which were ordered by Japanese authorities. The companies discovered issues affecting one model each.

Between the five companies, 38 models — all but six of which have been discontinued — are named in the disclosures. Several investigations are still active.

“These acts shake the very foundations of the certification system, and as an automobile manufacturer, we believe they are acts that must never be committed,” Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda said in a briefing.

Japan’s automakers have been under increased scrutiny since Toyota’s Daihatsu subsidiary admitted last year to rigging collision safety tests for some 88,000 vehicles. In December, a third-party probe found evidence that testing for as many as 64 models had been tampered with, pushing the company to temporarily shut down factories and a management shakeup.

The scandals have affected the reputation of Japan’s automakers, which have been widely viewed as having top-notch manufacturing and quality control. In recent months, several of the companies have reported slower sales at home, partially due the continued fallout from the mishandled testing.

Toyota and Honda reported a 14% and 14.8% decline in at-home April sales, respectively. Nissan Motor’s domestic delivering dropped almost 6%, while Mazda’s domestic sales plunged by 31%.

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