“Daihatsu is the author of one of the biggest scandals in the automobile industry”

OhWe begin by bowing our chest, deeply if the fault is serious, and pronouncing the words: “Honto ni gomenasai” (” I am really sorry “). In Japan, a highly codified society where shame plays a central role, a public apology, and its gestures, is a prerequisite for any explanation. So Soichiro Okudaira bowed.

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The company he heads, Daihatsu, a producer of small cars and a subsidiary of Toyota, is the author of one of the biggest scandals in the automobile industry of the last twenty years. Comparable in scale and severity to Volkswagen’s cheating on emissions tests, which cost the German company more than 30 billion euros and largely contributed to killing diesel engine technology, a great European specialty.

In the case of Daihatsu, it was the safety crash tests, which were falsified. Operators distribute slight modifications to the test vehicles so that the deformation of the car, or the opening of the airbag, happens correctly.

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Unveiled by a whistleblower in April who suspected six models, the affair took on a whole new dimension after an investigation by auditors. In all, 64 models are affected and some of the 170 irregularities noted date back more than ten years, even to the early 1990s for some. Toyota has announced the suspension of fifteen models sold in Asia.

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Soichiro Okudaira, in his act of contrition, pointed to at least four causes. Employees under pressure to reduce costs and deadlines, the absence of a culture of reporting facts and healthy communication and finally the fear of failure, which is very frowned upon. All the basic errors that appear in most management manuals, often inspired by the example… Toyota!

The entire structure of the world’s leading automobile manufacturer is shaken by this affair, and it will take time to regain the trust of its customers. Whether you are an individual, a company or a nation, defining and maintaining a culture, ethics and respect for basic values ​​is a never-ending task.