Nissan suspends local car production for Japan for two weeks

Nissan is calling back 1.16 million cars made and sold in Japan between January 2014 and September 2017 for inspection, after the government found uncertified inspectors approved vehicle quality at its domestic plants.
Nissan is calling back 1.16 million cars made and sold in Japan between January 2014 and September 2017 for inspection, after the government found uncertified inspectors approved vehicle quality at its domestic plants.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) - Nissan will suspend all local car production for Japan from Thursday (Oct 19) for about two weeks as the company's fallout from a lapse in vehicle quality inspection worsens.

A production suspension is needed to reconfigure final inspection lines, the company said in a statement.

The automaker will also increase the number of final inspectors, Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa said at a press conference at its Yokohama headquarters on Thursday.

A third-party team investigating vehicle inspection lapses found that some plants transferred final vehicle inspection check items from the final vehicle inspection line to other lines, and as a result employees who were not internally registered as final vehicle inspectors performed the last vehicle inspections, Nissan said.

Nissan is calling back 1.16 million cars made and sold in Japan between January 2014 and September 2017 for inspection, after the government found uncertified inspectors approved vehicle quality at its domestic plants.

The incident, likely to cost the company 25 billion yen (S$301 million), has become the first big test for Saikawa, who took over the top job from Carlos Ghosn in April.

Saikawa said on Oct 2 he will personally investigate to get to the bottom of the issue before deciding who should bear responsibility for the "shocking" lapse.

With Nissan Recall Nissan said this month there have been instances of unauthorized inspectors, who usually work under the supervision of a certified inspector, working alone and stamping final inspection paperwork.

There were also multiple copies of such stamps used for paperwork for vehicles for the Japanese market, it said. Vehicles exported from Japan aren't involved in the recall as the certificate is a Japan-specific requirement by the ministry, Nissan has said.

There were communication gaps between managers and shop-floor workers, Saikawa said Thursday.

After the initial revelation, uncertified workers continued to perform some of the duties on some 3,800 vehicles at the Shonan plant of Nissan Shatai Co., a Nissan affiliate. Shipping of cars from the unit was suspended starting Oct 11 before resuming Oct 16, according to a Nissan spokesman.