Toyota, Honda confirm safety of some Kobe Steel products

October 20, 2017

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automakers have confirmed use of Kobe Steel products affected by fake inspection data, but say they have found no safety concerns so far.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Corp. issued statements late Thursday outlining preliminary findings from checks of materials and parts from Kobe Steel. Japanese media cited officials from other automakers making similar announcements.

The investigations by automakers, aircraft manufacturers and other customers of Kobe Steel follow the company’s disclosure that inspections data on a slew of products was faked or manipulated. The extend of the problem is unclear because both Kobe Steel has not identified the customers affected by name, and it is still investigating the problem.

However, it has said data on aluminum plates, copper pipes and molds and steel wire rods used in vehicle tires and engines are among the products whose data did not match specifications or was false or insufficient. The problem had persisted for a decade, possibly much longer, Japanese media have reported, citing unnamed former Kobe Steel employees.

Toyota said in a statement that it had confirmed that aluminum plates used in hoods, rear hatches and other components of its vehicles from Kobe Steel met requirements for strength and durability based on data from the company that was “furthest outside of Toyota’s specifications.”

It said it was still investigating non-aluminum products from Kobe Steel.

Honda said aluminum panels were the only products bought directly from Kobe Steel. It found they met all of its safety standards. It said it was still checking on other parts obtained through suppliers.

Many Kobe Steel customers have said they are checking into the problem. So far, none have confirmed any specific safety risks. However, earlier this week the European Aviation Safety Agency recommended companies suspend use of Kobe Steel products when possible while they review their supply chains to identify “suspected unapproved parts” from the company that may have used.

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