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Kobe Steel aluminium tampering scandal could impact its products, Toyota says

Japan’s Kobe Steel which supplies huge amounts of metal to car makers has been found to have tampered with data around the strength of the steel it supplied.

KOBE STEEL REVEALED late yesterday that it had found a staggering 70 examples of data fabrication on testing equipment used to measure the strength of its metals and one case of falsified data on iron powder products that had been shipped to a customer. Who that customer is has not been identified.

At this stage, Kobe Steel said an internal investigation had revealed issues with its aluminium and copper business and, so far seems to be isolated to those departments. The company said it had initiated an investigation going back 10 years.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that the external investigation will find other cases,” Yoshihiko Katsukawa, a managing executive at Kobe Steel said, adding no customers had raised any safety issues or stopped buying its products.

These revelations after Kobe Steel announced, earlier in the week, that its business had falsified data about the quality of the aluminium and copper it was supplying to the auto, aircraft, space and defence industries.

Just what the fall out of these revelations will be remains unclear, but the businesses supplied the affected materials will likely have to begin testing the products themselves which, in the case of the auto industry, could lead to vehicle recalls with Kobe Steel likely to wear the costs.

It’s known that Kobe Steel provides metals to Toyota, Honda and Subaru. Toyota has already reacted, saying:

“We are rapidly working to identify which vehicle models might be subject to this situation and what components were used,” Toyota spokesman Takashi Ogawa said in a statement. “We recognize that this breach of compliance principles on the part of a supplier is a grave issue.”

Indeed, Toyota said it found Kobe Steel products in its bonnets, doors and peripheral components of some of its vehicles.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.