JAPANESE AUTOMAKERS CLAIM KOBE-SUPPLIED PARTS ARE SAFE

Earlier this month, Kobe Steel, one of the top metal suppliers in Japan, admitted it had knowingly mislabeled some aluminum and copper products. While only 4 percent of aluminum and copper shipments were affected, Japanese automakers were forced to figure out whether or not they’d used unsafe components on their vehicles. Today, three of them announced that their parts had all passed inspection.

Reuters reports that Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Mazda had confirmed their Kobe-supplied aluminum components are safe. Some of the parts were out of spec, but none of the inspections showed they were unsafe to use.

“We confirmed that the materials satisfy applicable statutory standards, and our own internal standard, for key safety and durability requirements for vehicles,” said Toyota in a statement. Honda, Nissan, and Mazda all released similar statements.

As for what will happen to Kobe Steel, that’s still up in the air. “For a manufacturer, quality control is the most important thing and they were cheating for many years. This was a shock to their customers, who can no longer trust Kobe Steel,” an anonymous senior Japanese manufacturing executive told Reuters.

He also said that affected automakers will likely expect compensation from Kobe, but he thinks it’s unlikely that they will sue. Government regulators, however, might not be so forgiving. The U.S. Justice Department has already opened an investigation, and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism plans to look into the safety of vehicles using Kobe Steel parts.