Japan's Subaru to issue recall on cars checked by uncertified inspectors
Subaru Corp. said on Monday it would move to recall around 255,000 vehicles next week after it was revealed that final vehicle inspections had been carried out by uncertified staff.
The recall will be applicable to the firm's whole range of 12 models that have been sold over the past three years, the Tokyo-based automaker said.
Subaru owners, who have had their vehicles inspected as per the law and prior to delivery being made, will have their vehicles exempt from next week's recall.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, following talks with Subaru, will issue the recall, which will not apply to mini-vehicles produced by Daihatsu Motor Co.
The results of an internal probe were reported to the ministry on Monday, with the probe launched after it came to light that uncertified staff had been carrying out inspections at two of its plants in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo.
The probe revealed that the practice had been going on for around 30 years at the embattled automaker.
Subaru President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told a press conference on Friday that the inspection malpractice was conducted in a systematic manner.
Subaru permitted workers without the requisite certification who were in training to perform parts of the safety inspections and use stamps of authorized inspectors at two plants in Ota in southeastern Gunma Prefecture, in Japan's northern Kanto region, insiders with knowledge of the matter said.
They added that temporary permits were issued to workers undergoing training, who carried out final vehicle checks before becoming fully qualified.
Subaru, whose corporate name was Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. until April this year, is known for producing the popular Crosstrek, Outback, Forester and Impreza models of vehicles.
The scandal at Subaru comes on the heels of revelations that Nissan Motor Co., Japan's second-largest automaker, has been involved in inspection practices that also did not meet transport ministry standards.
The improper inspections at Nissan led to the automaker issuing a domestic recall of some 1.2 million cars sold in Japan over the past three years and a suspension to production of domestic automobiles.
According to an internal investigation at Nissan, it was revealed that improper final inspections on vehicles has become an inherent practice at the Yokohama-based automaker and dates back as far as 20 years.
Nissan had not been following standardized procedures and protocols for final inspections that are required by Japan's transport ministry to be conducted on all vehicles sold in Japan, it was revealed.
Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa's said that the automaker's training system for certifying vehicle inspection staff had not changed for 20 years, with sources close to the matter stating that, in violation of government requirements, final inspections had been routinely conducted by uncertified technicians.
Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii said such negligence of compliance is undermining the nation's regulatory system and the government has since stepped up its overseeing of a number of manufacturers, including Kobe Steel, itself mired in a data standard fabrication scandal.
The transport ministry, however, said Monday that it has found no improper cases of inspection conducted by Japanese automakers other than those already revealed at Nissan and Subaru, based on reports submitted by 24 makers at the ministry's request.
It said the reports will be further inspected with current inspection standards by automakers likely to be a particular point of focus.