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Rebadged Toyota cars in PH are not affected by Daihatsu safety scandal

The Japanese auto giant seeks to reform the corporate culture within its subsidiary

In case you didn't know, the Toyota Raize is actually a Daihatsu. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

Critics of Philippine-market car industry leader Toyota like to remind customers that a handful of its vehicles sold in our territory are merely rebadged models from Daihatsu. To wit, these Toyotas are actually Daihatsus:

  • Wigo
  • Rush
  • Avanza
  • Veloz
  • Raize

Now, making fun of these models is not the same as comparing them with Chinese cars. In the first place, Daihatsu is a proud Japanese brand. Second, Toyota has owned Daihatsu since 2016. So, this is not a case of a big company hoodwinking buyers by selling them inferior products masquerading as world-class vehicles with Toyota badges. Let us be clear: Daihatsu cars have their provenance in the Land of the Rising Sun.

But—and it turns out this is a huge BUT—it has now come to light that Daihatsu has been rigging its safety tests for decades—involving 64 models and three engines. Many of these models have been sold globally as Toyotas. That’s where the industry giant is reeling from the scandal.

Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda bravely faced the music. PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

I spent last weekend in Thailand with some of top Toyota brass for the Idemitsu Super Endurance Southeast Asia Trophy, where the automaker showed off its various “pathways” to carbon neutrality. And when I say “top brass,” I mean exactly that: I’m referring to Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda (aka Morizo). He was there to race cars and to field questions from journalists who were tasked to grill him about the extent of Toyota’s involvement in the safety scandal.

Ah, but Toyoda gamely answered all the questions thrown his way. I can attest that we (the media) were not asked to sidestep sensitive queries. We were offered the microphone with 100% transparency. Fire away, boys.

Bear in mind that Toyota was slumping amid the shame of having a wholly owned subsidiary being found cheating on its safety reports. The brand’s shares dropped as its PR department announced a recall of 1.1 million cars. Surely, Toyoda could be excused from making a public appearance—especially from taking part in a fun activity in cold Buriram.

But nah. This dude had made it his mission to put a smile on the face of anyone who would encounter the Toyota brand. Bravely, he said that Daihatsu would undergo a “fundamental reform.” Best of all, he said this:

“In driving cars, you need to be safe before you can have fun.”

Affected Toyota models that are actually rebadged Daihatsu vehicles in Japan. LIST FROM TOYOTA

The above list shows the rebadged Daihatsu vehicles being sold as Toyota cars in Japan.

Meanwhile, the following list shows the rebadged Daihatsu models marketed as Toyotas in various global markets:

Affected Toyota models that are actually rebadged Daihatsu vehicles in global markets. LIST FROM TOYOTA

Thankfully, Philippine-market Daihatsu vehicles are not included in the models affected by the safety scandal. So yes, we wholeheartedly advise you to continue trusting these cars.

What I like about this episode is that it allows us to see that even Japan is susceptible to fraud (remember Nissan’s final vehicle inspections and Mitsubishi’s fuel tests?). But the honorable among them are upright enough to admit the wrongdoing and vow to be better.

Toyota is not cursed to have Daihatsu as a partner. Rather, Daihatsu is blessed to have Toyota as its owner.

NOTE: Read the Daihatsu safety debacle here.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.