Nissan Motor Co. had been conducting its current inspection process for vehicles sold in Japan—deemed faulty by the government last month — since at least 1979, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The finding will be part of a report from an external investigation team commissioned by the carmaker, said the person, who asked not to be identified. Nissan’s manufacturing division will likely take responsibility for the incident, the person said. The report will be submitted ahead of the Yokohama-based company’s results announcement scheduled for Nov. 8.
“Nissan has commissioned a third party to thoroughly investigate the issue and suggest measures to prevent recurrence,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “Details of the investigation will be shared at the appropriate time.” The spokesman declined to comment specifically on the time frame.
Revelations late last month that Nissan technicians who weren’t registered with the transport ministry signed off final inspection of vehicles triggered a recall of about 1.2 million automobiles and a temporary shutdown of all production at the manufacturer’s factories in Japan for local sales.
Nissan Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa, who was handpicked by Chairman Carlos Ghosn to run the carmaker earlier this year, has promised to investigate the matter. Saikawa has been criticized by some media outlets for not bowing enough while apologizing about the incident, as is the customary practice.
The company has said exported models aren’t involved in the recall as the quality certificate is a Japan-specific requirement by the ministry. There are no safety issues with the vehicles.
The faulty inspection process at Nissan and Kobe Steel Ltd.’s admission this month of falsifying product quality have dented the reputation of the manufacturing sector, once revered for its impregnable quality. In June, airbag maker Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy after a massive recall crisis. Last year, Suzuki Motor Corp. admitted to using unapproved fuel-economy testing methods in Japan, following similar disclosures by Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
After the initial revelations of uncertified inspection, an external team probing the lapses found that some Nissan plants had transferred final vehicle checks to other lines. As a result, employees who were not internally registered as final vehicle inspectors performed the check. The company will reconfigure the inspection process, and plans to add additional final inspectors, Saikawa said this month.
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