Car Safety

Latest Japanese scandal affects global automakers

Ford, GM, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota may be affected by Kobe Steel woes

<strong>Galvanized and Stainless Steels</strong>
All Canadians can recite one fact about rust: it never sleeps. But it can be repelled and minimized. Galvanization, the process of applying a coating of zinc to steel, prevents corrosion from getting at the steel, at least while the zinc is intact. But zinc can wear away over time, due to environmental exposure to the natural acidity of rain, even snow. Improved paint coatings help to preserve both the zinc and the steel underneath &ndash; a key factor in the longevity modern automobiles demonstrate by keeping rust at bay 10 or 12 or more years after leaving the assembly plant.

Toyota has confirmed that the recently breaking Kobe Steel record falsification scandal may have an effect on its Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles.

Kobe Steel (a century-old Japanese steel producer with contracts worldwide in various industries) announced at the beginning of October that employees had falsified data on products supplied to over 500 companies, including automakers Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota. Others include Airbus, Boeing, bullet-train operator Central Japan Railway Company, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The scandal involved supplying metals of grades inferior to what the companies required for various metal parts and components, and then falsifying records to show the metals supplied were up to requested requirements. However, Kobe pointed out, the metals were still up to safety and regulatory standards.

Following an internal investigation, Toyota confirmed that Kobe-supplied materials (notably aluminum plates) had been used in the construction of hoods, rear hatches, and front door hinge components on certain Lexus and Toyota vehicles, and also confirmed the plated did satisfy statutory regulatory standards and Toyota’s standard for key safety and durability requirements, which Toyota says surpass industry standards.

A Toyota statement adds that the company will continue and investigation to find out what other non-aluminum materials (such as copper tubes, steel wires and powder, etc.) may be present in its products as a result of Kobe supplying materials to Toyota suppliers.

Kobe said it would cover the costs of all recalls, and admitted it had zero credibility, as its stock prices plummeted.

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