Friday, 20 October, 2017

Toyota, Mitsubishi scramble to check parts after steel scandal

Kobe Steel's lies reverberate across Japan's economy Kobe Steel shares melt as falsified data scandal heats up
Marta Holmes | 11 October, 2017, 00:24

Will Kobe Steel become the next "Takata airbag" scandal to hit Japan?

- Subaru said "cars and planes including their parts made by Subaru used aluminum made by Kobe Steel that was subject to data falsification" and added it was checking to see if the use of Kobe Steel's aluminum parts affects safety.

Aluminum is widely used in cars, planes and high-speed trains in Japan which use the light-weight metal to increase fuel efficiency.

The company said on Sunday that about 4 percent of the aluminium and copper products that it shipped from September 2016 to August 2017 were falsely labelled as meeting the specifications requested by customers. Nissan has already said aluminum hoods that fail to meet specifications could pose a risk to pedestrians during front-end collisions, while Toyota said the metal could have been used in some of its hoods and rear doors.

Subaru Corporation announced Monday they were using Kobe Steel's data-adjusted aluminum products in their cars and aircraft. Also Boeing Co., which gets some parts from Subaru, said there's nothing to date that raises any safety concerns.

The company said products used by about 200 companies were certified with falsified data.

"We are rapidly working to identify which vehicle models might be subject to this situation and what components were used, as well as what effect there might be on individual vehicles", it said in a statement. "We recognise that this breach of compliance principles on the part of a supplier is a grave issue".

According to Japan Times, Kobe Steel said data was falsified to make the metal look as if it met quality standards.

Toyota confirmed that it has used aluminium with falsified strength and durability ratings in its doors and other outer areas.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. spokesman Genki Ono said Kobe Steel aluminum was used in the MRJ regional jet as well as the H-IIA rocket, which was launched by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on Tuesday for a satellite. Kobe Steel's aluminum and copper operations account for about 20 percent of total sales, according to data for the quarter ended June 30. Kobe Steel said it not had recognized specific problems casting doubts on the safety of the nonconforming products and that the episode had brought overwhelming shame. "If the aluminum business doesn't work out well, I question where the company can make money", given the mainstay steel business remains one of low profitability, he said.

In all, about 200 Japanese companies are impacted, including a number of vehicle manufacturers, as well as the Central Japan Railway, or JR Tokai.

It was not clear whether it would affect the safety of their products.

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