Could the Kobe Steel Scandal become Japan's new Takata Scandal?
It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a nation of top grade suppliers, wealthy investors, and talented workers to build a car company with as much prestige and as many accolades as Toyota, Nissan, or Honda have. Those three automakers make up a substantial part of Japan's mighty automobile industry and all three recently awoke to the unfortunate reality that one of their metal suppliers was caught falsifying data about the strength and durability of its products.
Auto Express highlighted the fact that Kobe Steel, the company behind the scandal, sells to Japan's major auto manufacturers including the three aforementioned companies and Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru. Non-Japanese automakers that are potentially affected by the scandal include Ford and General Motors. When it was uncovered that Kobe Steel had been falsifying data to make it look as if its metal met quality standards, automakers begun trying to identify which models were affected. Thus far there are no safety concerns due to the incident, but logic dictates that if weaker metal was used in crash structures, it could pose a risk to vehicle occupants.
Kobe Steel said that the data links back to four aluminum plants in Japan and claimed that the practice goes as far back as 10 years, meaning the problem could span all the way back to cars built in 2007 and onward. Toyota came out and said that some of that aluminum was used in its car doors and other outer areas while Honda claims to have used affected aluminum in its doors and hoods. "We are rapidly working to identify which vehicle models might be subject to this situation and what components were used," said a Toyota spokesperson. "We recognize that this breach of compliance principles on the part of a supplier is a grave issue." For now we'll throw that statement into the "no shit" pile and keep you updated on further developments.