Industry > Mess

Several Japanese carmakers mired in testing scandals

Issues force brands to halt shipments of some models

More Japanese automobile and motorcycle makers admit irregularities with various tests. GRAPHIC BY RED SANTIAGO

Japan’s number one automaker Toyota couldn’t catch a break. In the last few years, the industry giant and its subsidiaries have been involved in scandals detrimental to the company’s credibility.

This time though, it is joined by other carmakers like Honda, Mazda, Suzuki, and motorcycle manufacturer Yamaha.

Last year, Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu admitted rigging crash tests of its vehicles to get better ratings. This involved three DNGA-based models. This eventually prompted its local distributor to issue statements regarding the matter.

Inadequacies in the information about the safety tests for the Corolla Fielder, the Corolla Axio, and the TNGA-based Yaris Cross were discovered. PHOTOS FROM TOYOTA

This prompted Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) to instruct all Japanese car and motorcycle makers to report if the companies are following the MLIT’s methods in testing vehicles.

In a statement, Toyota admitted that it provided inadequate data in pedestrian and occupant protection tests for the Corolla Fielder, the Corolla Axio, and the Toyota New Global Architecture-based Yaris Cross.

It also reported that other discontinued models like the Crown, the Isis, the Sienta, and the older Lexus RX had errors in crash tests and different test methods. This could not be the last, as the automaker is still investigating issues like fuel efficiency and emissions.

Errors were found in the crash tests for the Crown, the Sienta, the Isis, and the older Lexus RX. PHOTOS FROM TOYOTA

Mazda, in a statement, admitted that it discovered irregularities in the processing of test vehicles in crash tests of the following models:

  • 29,547 Atenzas (Mazda 6) made from November 2014 to April 2018
  • 22,094 Atenzas made from April 2018 to April 2024
  • 46,067 Axelas (Mazda 3) made from August 2016 to February 2019

These discontinued vehicles are intended for sale in the Japanese domestic market.

Crash tests on the discontinued Axelas and Atenzas were riddled with irregularities. PHOTOS FROM MAZDA

The Hiroshima-based automaker also reported the discovery of alterations on the engine control software during testing. The ignition-timing adjust functions were partially disabled on the following models still in production:

  • 10,930 Roadster RF (MX-5/Miata) made from June 2018
  • 42,240 Mazda 2 made from June 2021

The two vehicles have been produced and sold in Japan.

Although the other companies implicated have yet to issue statements, a Reuters report reveals that Honda also found wrongdoing in noise and output tests for eight years until October 2017. The 24 involved models are no longer in production.

Some functionalities on the engine control software of these vehicles were disabled during testing. PHOTOS FROM MAZDA

The same report asserts that the MLIT has ordered Yamaha, Toyota, and Mazda to suspend shipments of some of their models. Reuters claims that Yamaha has already stopped shipments of an unnamed sports motorcycle model.

Toyota has said that it has halted the shipments of the Corolla Fielder, the Corolla Axio, and the Yaris Cross, while Mazda has also stopped shipping the Roaster RF and the 2.

These scandals have hurt the Japanese automotive industry, causing headaches for the government. Meanwhile, these also affected the shares of both Toyota (down by 1.8%) and Mazda (down by 3.3%).

With countermeasures underway, this could end the scandals hounding Japanese carmakers. PHOTO FROM HONDA

The companies have already been putting in place measures to prevent such irregularities from happening again. And while it seems that none of the concerned vehicles have made their way to our market, we hope the companies get their act together and fix these issues once and for all.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.