/

Nissan will recall 1.2 million cars in Japan amid safety inspection scandal

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

Nissan Motor Co. said Monday it is recalling about 1.2 million cars in Japan that did not meet domestic rules on final safety inspections.

“I sincerely apologize. This should not have happened,” Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa told a news conference at the company’s headquarters in Yokohama, adding that he estimates the cost related to the recall at about ¥25 billion.

The recall will cover 24 models, including the Note, Skyline and Leaf electric car.

He called the widespread mishandling of inspections “unacceptable” and said the company — which together with alliance partners Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. became the world’s top-selling carmaker in the January-June period — will need to work to win back customer trust.

Saikawa said he was “shocked” to learn the practice was so widespread and hoped to discover who was culpable through an internal probe that will take a month.

It is not clear if the flawed inspections were due to an oversight or a systematic attempt to cut corners.

The announcement came after Nissan’s shares slumped in Tokyo on reports that tests were performed by staff who were not certified to check the vehicles to government standards. Nissan said it will reinspect 34,000 cars held in stock at factories and dealerships.

Shares fell by more than 5 percent in early trade before ending the day down 2.69 percent at ¥1,084.5.”A team that includes an independent third party is currently investigating the causes and measures to prevent recurrence,” the company said in a statement.

Nissan rescued Mitsubishi Motors last year with a capital injection after the latter’s sales plummeted in the wake of a fuel economy cheating scandal.

Earlier in the day, Nissan launched a revamped Leaf electric vehicle, but its delivery to some customers will be delayed also due to the improper inspections carried out at all of its six domestic assembly factories.Nissan’s Oppama plant in Kanagawa Prefecture was among the factories where the flawed inspections were conducted.

The carmaker said it can sell the new model produced on Sept. 19 and later as scheduled, as it corrected the faulty inspection method following instruction from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

But it will suspend sales of cars produced earlier, delaying the new model’s delivery to some customers, the automaker said.