Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Research | By Derrick Holloway

OEMs checking on auto body parts following Kobe Steel revelations

OEMs checking on auto body parts following Kobe Steel revelations

Akihiro Tada, director of the ministry's Manufacturing Industries Bureau, urged the company to move quickly in resolving the problems, which are thought to have affected numerous country's largest manufacturers.

On Sunday, Kobe Steel announced that its internal checks found the specification data for a portion of its aluminium and copper products sold to customers were "improperly rewritten".

Kobe Steel's president, Hiroya Kawasaki, bowed deeply in a formal apology, lamenting that "Trust in our company has dropped to zero". On Wednesday, Kobe Steel said a steel-powder product, which is used to manufacture parts such as gears, also could be a problem.

The stock dived 22% on Tuesday to finish at 1,068 yen ($9.50), its maximum daily loss limit-wiping nearly a billion dollars off the firm's market value.

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USA carmaker General Motors is the latest manufacturer to check whether its cars contain falsely certified parts or components sourced from the the firm, Japan's third-biggest steelmaker.

Kobe Steel Ltd.'s fake-data scandal penetrated deeper into the most hallowed corners of Japanese industry as iconic bullet trains were found with substandard parts supplied by the steelmaker.

He promised that Kobe Steel will carry out an in-house investigation into the matter, while the ministry demanded that the company report the results of the probe in about two weeks.

The government has asked the company to provide more information about the products supplied to more than 200 Kobe Steel customers, reportedly including some of the country's biggest manufacturers, including defense contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and a number of automakers.

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The company, responding to the engineer's allegations, says that the data is collected for analytics and aftersales support. Since those two services are natively part of OnePlus' OxygenOS operating system, meddling with it could have consequences.

Japan's industry ministry has pressed Kobe Steel to work with its clients, spread over a wide range of industries, to conduct urgent safety analysis. Kobe Steel is carrying out technical verifications with its customers on the impact of the non-conforming products and has so far not found any quality and safety issues that require any recalls, Tsuchida added.

"The issue shakes the foundation of fair trade and is extremely regrettable".

Mr Tsuchida insisted that Kobe Steel was taking all necessary steps to investigate how this happened.

The data tampering at its aluminium unit could also hit plans to expand the business as carmakers increasingly turn to the material, which is lighter than steel, to meet tighter environmental rules.

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Investigations have shown that Kobe Steel knowingly shipped some 20,000 tons of aluminum and copper products with fabricated inspection data. "We are investigating any potential impact and do not have any additional comments at this time".

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