Daihatsu Motor Co. said Wednesday it will stop all shipments at home and abroad after the Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary found most of its car models were affected by improper vehicle safety tests.

The move comes after the minivehicle maker acknowledged earlier this year data-rigging in collision tests for six of its models, including those sold in Thailand and Malaysia.

A third-party panel it has set up identified 174 new counts of misconduct across 25 vehicle test items in addition to those already discovered, with the oldest one dating back to 1989, Daihatsu said, adding that it reported the findings to the transport ministry.

Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on Dec. 20, 2023, shows the head office of Daihatsu Motor Co. in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture. (Kyodo) 

The number of vehicles affected by improper testing expanded to 64 models, including all 11 models the automaker currently sells in Japan, such as the Rocky compact sport utility vehicle and the Copen minivehicle.

Among the affected vehicles sold overseas are the Xenia in Indonesia and the Axia in Malaysia, which are sold under the Perodua brand. The 64 models also include those supplied to Toyota, Mazda Motor Corp. and Subaru Corp. for sale under their brands, as well as those whose production has already ended, it said.

Daihatsu also said some of the models may not meet safety standards as their doors could become hard to open from the outside in the event of an accident. There has been no report of accidents resulting from the safety test irregularities, it added.

Daihatsu President Soichiro Okudaira apologized for the scandal at a press conference in Tokyo, saying, "We betrayed the trust of our customers. All the blame is on the management."

Asked about his responsibility, Okudaira rejected the idea of immediately resigning as he hopes to "pave the way for preventing similar incidents from happening again."

Daihatsu Motor Co. President Soichiro Okudaira (C) bows at a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 20, 2023, as he apologizes over his company's improper vehicle tests. The Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary announced the same day it will stop all shipments in domestic and overseas markets as most of its car models are affected. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

At a separate press conference, the third-party panel attributed the cause of the problem to Daihatsu executives pressuring engineers to shorten vehicle development time.

"There was tremendous pressure on employees as altering sales schedules due to test failures was widely seen as unacceptable," said Makoto Kaiami, head of the panel. A lack of communication among employees was also a factor, he added.

In a statement, Toyota said it has also halted the shipment of affected vehicles sold under the Toyota brand, apologizing for failing to properly oversee its wholly owned subsidiary tasked with driving the parent company's growth strategy in Asia.

Since 2013, Toyota has been increasing the number of models manufactured by other companies, mainly compact vehicles, and the automaker deeply regrets that the development of these vehicles may have been a burden on the minivehicle maker, it said.

Toyota Executive Vice President Hiroki Nakajima apologized for failing to recognize a potential production overload at Daihatsu and pledged to provide "full support" to Daihatsu's review of its operations.

The automaker group has been hit by a series of issues over product quality in recent years.

Hino Motors Ltd., another Toyota subsidiary, admitted in March last year to having submitted fraudulent emissions and fuel economy data to transport authorities, while Toyota Industries Corp., a Toyota group forklift maker, said in March this year it had falsified emission data.

The transport ministry said it will conduct an on-site inspection of Daihatsu's headquarters in Osaka Prefecture on Thursday.

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