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Scandal-mired Toyota group automaker Daihatsu reshuffles leadership

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February 13, 2024
By The Associated Press


Japanese automaker Daihatsu President Soichiro Okudaira poses next to new type of "Tanto" in Tokyo, on July 9, 2019. Japanese automaker Daihatsu on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024 named a veteran at its parent company Toyota to replace its president as it tries to repair the damage from a scandal over cheating on vehicle safety tests. (Kyodo News via AP)
By Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese automaker Daihatsu on Tuesday named a veteran at its parent company Toyota to replace its president as it tries to repair the damage from a scandal over cheating on vehicle safety tests.

The troubles at Daihatsu Motor Co. surfaced after a whistleblower reported the cheating. A third-party review found violations, such as carrying out tests on just one side of a car when both sides had to be tested, that had persisted for decades.

The appointments of a new president, executive vice president and director highlight Toyota’s determination to play a leading role in the reforms at its 100% owned subsidiary.

Masahiro Inoue, now overseeing Toyota’s business in South America, will become Daihatsu President effective in March, Toyota Chief Executive Koji Sato told reporters in Tokyo.

Inoue replaces Soichiro Okudaira, who is resigning. Okudaira also had been sent in by Toyota. Daihatsu’s chairman, Sunao Matsubayashi, also resigned, while two other directors left the board but kept their positions at the company.

Masanori Kuwata, now at Lexus International Co., Toyota Motor Corp.’s luxury brand, becomes Daihatsu’s Executive Vice President, under the changes announced Tuesday. Keiko Yanagi, a deputy chief officer at Toyota, was named a director at Daihatsu.

Inoue apologized to Daihatsu’s customers, suppliers and dealers, saying he knows how to be a good listener to win people’s trust because of his decades of working overseas.

“We will make our hearts one and aim for a new start,” Inoue said.

The appointments highlight Toyota’s determination to play a leading role in the reforms at its 100% owned subsidiary and prevent scandals.

Inoue said a business plan will be disclosed in April, including a new managerial direction.

The Japanese government has ordered production halted on an array of Daihatsu models until tests can be carried out properly and approved. The companies said some production has already resumed but work on other models will take time.

No major accidents have been reported in connection with the cheating, but the news has raised serious questions about oversight at Daihatsu and its corporate parent Toyota.

Daihatsu has said its workers were under heavy pressure to meet tight deadlines. Management neglected to address problems on the factory floor and the causes of the cheating were complex, Sato said.

Daihatsu has recently handed an investigation of its wrongdoing to the Japanese government. Daihatsu, which has a 100-year history and employs 40,000 people, is known for small models popular in Japan and the rest of Asia.

Daihatsu products are known as “kokuminsha” in Japan, or “the people’s cars,” often used by small businesses for deliveries and transport. Sato said that embodied the spirit of Daihatsu.

He said Daihatsu will fix its corporate culture, management and “monozukuri,” or “the act of making things,” long the basis of the Toyota Way of manufacturing that empowers individual workers.

“We are ready to return to our roots to recreate Daihatsu,” he said.


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