Subaru says uncertified staff inspected its cars
Subaru said Friday it allowed uncertified staff to do inspections on some vehicles for more than three decades, becoming the latest Japanese firm dented by a quality scandal.
The company said it was considering a recall of more than 250,000 vehicles at a cost of some 5.0 billion yen ($44 million), after an internal probe uncovered the longstanding practice.
The misconduct appeared similar to an inspection crisis at bigger rival Nissan.
The embarrassing admissions have hurt Japan's auto industry, once the envy of the world for its just-in-time manufacturing and near-obsessive focus on constant improvement.
The practice at Subaru came to light after discussions between the automaker and transport ministry over inspection practices, it said Friday, adding that vehicles sold overseas were not affected.
The government ordered Japan's automakers to check their inspections after Nissan recalled some 1.2 million cars and suspended local production following admissions that uncertified staff performed final checks on some vehicles before they were shipped to dealers.
Subaru insisted that its inspection staff were undergoing training and were qualified to do the job, but had yet to be certified.
It is not clear if the lapses at the automaker -- which trails larger rivals Toyota, Nissan and Honda, selling about one million vehicles annually -- created a safety risk.
"Worrying our customers about their safety and peace of mind is something that we must not do," Subaru President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said as he bowed in apology -- a common act of contrition for Japanese executives.
The scandal at Nissan, meanwhile, has been compounded by a crisis at Kobe Steel, which falsified strength and quality data for products sold to Japan's automotive industry.
This summer, Tokyo-based auto parts supplier Takata tumbled into bankruptcy as its defective airbags were blamed for the deaths of at least 17 people globally and sparked the biggest-ever auto safety recall.
Last year, Mitsubishi Motors last year was caught fudging fuel-economy tests to make its cars seem more efficient than they were.