This can’t be good…
The image of the Japanese auto industry’s unflinching attitude towards top quality and enduring reliability is coming into question as of late, first with the news that Japanese metal supplier Kobe Steel falsified strength ratings of the aluminum it delivers to Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and other automakers, and now with a report by Reuters claiming that Nissan is halting domestic production of Japanese market vehicles for at least two weeks as it investigates a problem with the final inspection and certification process of these cars.
Apparently, the issue lies with the fact that final vehicle inspection is being conducted by workers who are not authorized by Nissan to conduct final checks. The problem began with a focus on efficiency that led to transferring some inspection steps to other inspection lines. To fill the gaps, Nissan used uncertified inspectors to inspect and sign off on cars at the end of the line. Making matters worse is the fact that these technicians were impersonating certified technicians by signing off with their stamps of approval. This directly violates the rules put in place by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The problem first came to the ministry’s attention in September.
By Sept. 29th, Nissan claimed that it was once again in compliance with the regulations. When the ministry reinspected the facilities, it found that Nissan was in fact not compliant. “Our emergency measures were not enough. We were unable to change our bad habits,” CEO Hiroto Saikawa said at a briefing. Nissan has already recalled 1.2 million cars sold in Japan to over the past three years for re-inspection, and the discovery of continuing violations will force the automaker to re-inspect another 34,000 cars, with 4,000 of them requiring a recall. While Nissan recalls, re-inspects, and places certified inspectors back at the end of the production line, it will keep its Japanese production facilities offline for at least two weeks.
It claims that the issue has no impact on the quality of its cars, but news like this brings that claim as well as the practices in place at Japan’s auto factories into question.