Toyota to Oversee Model Certification at Daihatsu

Carmaker Takes Lead Role After Safety Testing Scandal
Daihatsu HQ
The Daihatsu Motor logo on its headquarters in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)

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TOKYO — Japanese automaker Toyota will oversee model certification at its subsidiary Daihatsu to regain trust among dealers, customers and workers after a safety testing scandal, Daihatsu’s new president said April 8.

Toyota Motor Corp. will take a leadership role in various areas, including product development and procurement, said Masahiro Inoue, who took the helm of Daihatsu in March.

“I have been spending each and every day, vowing to revive Daihatsu,” said Inoue, who previously oversaw Toyota’s business in South America.

His predecessor at Daihatsu resigned after the allegations of widespread cheating on safety testing surfaced last year. A third-party review found violations, such as testing just one side of a car instead of both, had persisted for decades.

Production at Daihatsu Motor Co was halted by a government order until proper tests can be done and a system set up to prevent a recurrence. Only some production has since resumed. Daihatsu is known for smaller “kei” cars and off-road vehicles.

No major accidents have been reported in connection with the cheating, but the news has raised questions about oversight at Daihatsu, which is wholly owned by Toyota.

Inoue apologized and said he has visited plants, dealers and suppliers, trying to encourage better communication among the ranks. Dealers have complained customers are waiting, but safety comes first before chasing market share, he added.

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He acknowledged trying to deliver products quickly to keep up with demand was one reason for the misconduct.

“All of Daihatsu, as one team, will work hard so people can feel our vehicles are safe. We are about to make a big change,” Inoue said.

Executive Vice President Masanori Kuwata, also from Toyota, said the basic way people work at Daihatsu must change.

“There is no one quick fix,” he told reporters, “but we hope to restore positive energy among the ranks.”