For all we know, scandals plaguing the auto industry have been around ever since Henry Ford invented the assembly line. But lately, we've seen a rash of them come to the surface with the regularity of moths drawn to a porch light. Volkswagen was hit by heavy fines and the loss of a CEO over fraudulent emissions software. General Motors was taken to task over car stickers indicating false fuel economy rankings. Now, Subaru is the latest company to be in hot water over inappropriate data surrounding the testing of its brakes and steering systems.
According to Asahi Shimbun, higher-ups at Subaru admitted at a media conference in Tokyo that they fiddled with such information from their cars. While the company has no plans to recall any affected vehicles, that hasn't stopped the government from stepping in. Right after the conference, the country's ministry of transport reportedly announced it will launch an investigation to see if Subaru's fraudulence may have an effect on driver safety.
The conference also took place on the heels of a reported submitted earlier that day to Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. In it, the report written by outside lawyers hired by Subaru said there was a lot of irregularities over braking and steering mechanisms, including the use of different assessment methods that failed to meet standards.
In particular, the document points a finger at Subaru's Gunma Manufacturing Division, where much of the falsification took place. It's also the only plant in the country that can test cars to ensure they meet road standards. Some of the irregularities may go as far back as 1997, although extensive and detailed test records from that time weren't available.
In several cases, data on braking capability was distorted when both the foot and parking brakes were used simultaneously on tests, to inflate the results. On tests involving steering, if wheels did not turn in sync when steered, Subaru assembly line workers were told to push on the car body or tires to ensure that movements were in tandem with set standards.
Subaru President Tomomi Nakamura has since apologized for how company practices have lowered consumer confidence and hurt the brand. The company also reported that data falsification affected 1,869 vehicles, up by 318 over what was previously thought back in June, when the report was first expected to be complete.