Steel scandal hits marques

Some of the world’s biggest car companies – including Toyota and Honda – have been rocked by an industrial scandal in Japan over falsified data relating to the strength and durability of aluminium used in the production of their vehicles.

Kobe Steel, one of Japan’s key metal producers, says its staff has falsified the strength and durability of metal products delivered to more than 200 companies. These include automotive manufacturers, aerospace companies and the space industry.

The company works with several other marques, such as Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Ford, General Motors and Mitsubishi.

Kobe Steel says data had been falsified to make the metals look as if they reached quality standards. The false information has been linked back to four aluminium factories in Japan, and, for some items, the practice goes back about a decade, says Naoto Umehara, executive vice-president.

The company is now investigating the practice, but says so far there have been no safety concerns. Toyota has confirmed its use of aluminium with falsified strength and durability ratings in doors and other outer areas.

A spokesman says: “We are working to identify which models might be subject to this situation and what components were used. We recognise this breach of compliance principles on the part of a supplier is a grave issue.”

Honda has also stated it has used materials with false ratings in its doors and hoods, while Mazda and Mitsubishi are investigating if their vehicles are affected.

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