Business / Corporate

Nissan to recall 150,000 vehicles after new improper inspection practices come to light

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Already bogged down in a series of cases of improper vehicle tests, Nissan Motor Co. said Friday that it has found new misconduct and will recall about 150,000 automobiles.

While the Yokohama-based automaker has been hit hard recently by the arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, the improper testing scandal has been a headache since last year, so far leading to the recall of more than 1.1 million vehicles.

The fresh revelations came after the automaker said in September that it was confident it could prevent a recurrence of improper vehicle inspections.

According to Nissan, its Oppama plant in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, was not following rules in place for checking brake systems and steering wheels.

Interviews with workers revealed that parking brakes were used when testing the brakes for rear wheels, Nissan said. The plant also used regular brake pedals when checking the force of parking brakes. The same practice occurred at a Kyoto factory, the automaker said.

Inspectors also inappropriately turned steering wheels during steering angle tests, according to Nissan.

The findings called into question whether the vehicles undergoing the improper tests met actual standards for final inspections, leading to the decision to issue a recall.

The firm said it will officially submit a recall request to the transport ministry next week.

The 150,000 vehicles to be recalled include Nissan’s Note, Leaf, Juke, Sylphy, Cube and March models made at the Oppama plant between Nov. 7 2017, and Oct. 25 this year. Some models made at the Kyoto plant will also be recalled, including the Atlas, Civilian, Elf and Journey models made for Isuzu Motors as well as Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp.’s Canter Guts model.

Nissan also said that odometer and sideslip checks were conducted improperly at the Oppama plant.

“I personally believe that we’ve done quite everything we could,” Seiji Honda, Nissan’s corporate vice president, told a news conference when asked if more revelations could be expected. But Honda refrained from making any promises.

Honda said inspection devices are quite old at the Oppama plant and that the quality of the inspection manual was poor compared with other plants, contributing to the misconduct.

As for any impact on earnings, Nissan said it is still unclear.

Problems with the automaker’s vehicle inspection process first came to light in September last year after an on-site inspection by the transport ministry discovered the use of unauthorized employees for final checks of finished cars at all six of the firm’s domestic plants.

In July this year, Nissan revealed another quality control scandal, saying that five of its domestic factories doctored fuel efficiency data for more than 1,000 vehicles.

Nissan said manpower shortages, insufficient training and a lack of awareness about compliance were among the factors leading to the misconduct.