Nissan to recall 150,000 cars in Japan due to improper checks

Nissan Motor corporate vice-presidents Teiji Hirata (left) and Seiji Honda bow at a press briefing at the company's global headquarters in Yokohama on Dec 7, 2018.

TOKYO (AFP) - Nissan on Friday (Dec 7) announced plans to recall approximately 150,000 vehicles owing to improper tests on new units, dealing a fresh blow to the Japanese car giant following the shock arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

"Nissan has recently found several non-conformities that may have caused inaccurate pass/fail judgments during the inspection process," the company said in a statement, adding it would "promptly" recall as many as 150,000 units in Japan.

It confirmed that improper tests were carried out on brakes, speedometers and other systems before shipment at its domestic assembly plant.

The recall will cover around 10 models including Note hatchbacks and Leaf electric vehicles as well as March and Cube compact cars produced between November 2017 and October this year.

Nissan plans to notify the authorities of the recall on Thursday, it added.

The manufacturer was forced to recall more than one million vehicles last year after admitting staff without proper authorisation had conducted final inspections on some units intended for the domestic market before they were shipped to dealers.

In a separate case that erupted in July, Nissan admitted data on exhaust emissions and fuel economy had been deliberately "altered", hampering its efforts to recover trust after the inspection scandal.

Asked if excessive cost-cutting measures under Ghosn - earning the nickname "Le Cost Killer" in France - may have resulted in the improper checks, vice-president Seiji Honda said: "In a way, maybe."

But he added: "We have not established any link between that and our latest problem with inspections."

The latest recall represents another blow to the company, which has been rocked since Ghosn was arrested on Nov 19 on allegations he underreported his salary by millions of dollars over five years. Ghosn denies any wrongdoing.

Tokyo prosecutors have decided to indict Nissan as well as Ghosn and another executive as early as next week over alleged financial misconduct, a report said on Friday.

The report comes amid speculation that Ghosn and his right-hand man Greg Kelly will face new allegations related to underreporting of the auto titan's compensation.

The Nikkei business daily reported Friday that Ghosn and Kelly would likely be indicted on those allegations as soon as Monday, when their current detention period expires.

The daily said prosecutors had decided that Nissan was also responsible for the alleged financial wrongdoing and would bring charges against the firm.

In Japan, Ghosn was celebrated as a charismatic business leader who saved Nissan from the brink of failure and rebuilt it as a money-maker in the alliance with Renault. But since his shock arrest, he has been removed from the boards of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors.

Nissan has begun the process of choosing Ghosn's successor, with the final decision expected on Dec 17.

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