Business

Subaru blames high workloads as it finds more cases of improper vehicle inspections

Kyodo

Subaru Corp. blamed inspectors’ excessive workloads as it revealed fresh cases of improper vehicle inspections in a final report on its data falsifications.

The automaker has newly found that inspectors failed to properly check brakes and speedometers during final inspections. The number of affected vehicles is difficult to know because the conduct came to light based on hearings with employees, it said Friday.

Subaru has already been grilled over a finding that its inspectors fabricated fuel and emissions data, which prompted the company to launch the in-house investigation.

The improper inspections, which are believed to date back to the early 1990s and were first reported in March, affected 1,869 vehicles, up from the 1,551 announced in June, the automaker said.

Employees who lacked “awareness of norms” and had “insufficient supervision” were to blame, according to the report submitted to the transport ministry on Friday.

“I sincerely offer apologies for causing great concern and worry,” Subaru President Tomomi Nakamura said at the ministry.

In doctoring fuel and emissions data, some inspectors had copied measurements from other vehicles to meet testing standards, the report said.

A Subaru plant in Gunma Prefecture, where inspection data were fabricated, was built in the 1960s and lacked proper air conditioning, making it difficult for inspectors to conduct tests in a controlled environment, it also said.

Several inspectors at the plant said that in winter they had to boil water in an electric pot to keep humidity levels in the testing room up to standards, according to the report.

Lawyers who conducted the in-house investigation said that after Subaru cut investment at the plant, workloads on inspectors there increased.

To prevent a recurrence, Subaru said it will review workloads in the inspection process and enhance commitment by its executives in ensuring quality.

Subaru is among several major Japanese companies found to have fabricated product data, including Kobe Steel Ltd. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp.