Honda among auto companies affected by Kobe Steel scandal

Kobe Steel Says It Falsified Data

Kobe Steel Says It Falsified Data

While the scam is reported to have involved numerous employees and gone on for as long as a decade, Kobe said its investigations so far had shown the misrepresentation specifically affected certain copper and aluminium products shipped in September and August. And the Reuters news service quoted Japanese industry ministry officials who said some Subaru products sold to the military also used Kobe Steel.

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

Earlier this year, the company said it was spending $500m to boost output of the lightweight metal, including buying a 50% stake in a plant in South Korea.

Nissan, Mazda and Honda confirmed they used aluminium produced by Kobe Steel and were now investigating the matter and carrying out safety checks.

Boeing said in a statement it was working "with our suppliers since being notified of the issue".

Honda also confirmed it used materials with false ratings in its doors and hoods, while Mazda and Mitsubishi are now investigating whether their vehicles are affected.

Toyota is one of 200 companies potentially impacted by Kobe Steel's fraudulent practices; however, its USA built vehicle appear to be unaffected.

The ministry has told Kobe Steel to contact affected clients, analyze the safety of the products in question and find ways to prevent a repeat.

Spokesmen for Honda and Nissan also confirmed they had used Kobe materials with falsified data in their cars but were still assessing the consequences.

"Nothing in our review to date leads us to conclude that this issue presents a safety concern", the company said Tuesday. Suzuki Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. all said they are checking whether their vehicles are affected.

Hitachi said the Kobe Steel materials were used in its trains exported to the United Kingdom. "We perceive that there was no problem as the rocket launch was a success", Mitsubishi Heavy spokesman Genki Ono said. Its nuclear power division filed for bankruptcy protection in the USA earlier this year. Kobe Steel's aluminum and copper operations account for about 20 percent of total sales, according to data for the quarter ended June 30.

It is the latest in a string of scandals highlighting wider concerns about inspection and quality control in Japan from wobbly building pilings at the construction arm of Asahi Kasei to overstated fuel economy at Mitsubishi Motors.

"Aluminum is a strategic business for Kobe Steel", said Irisawa at Tachibana Securities. "If the aluminium business doesn't work out well, I question where the company can make money", given that profitability at the mainstay steel business remained low, he said.

In other recent Japanese product-related cases, Takata pleaded guilty in the United States in February to one count of wire fraud for misleading auto makers about the safety of its exploding air bags.

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