Nissan recalls 1.2-million Japan-sold cars over mishandled safety checks

Kyodo News

Posted at Oct 06 2017 11:34 PM

Nissan Motor Co. on Friday filed the recall of nearly 1.2 million vehicles with Japan's transport ministry after the automaker was revealed to have allowed uncertified inspectors to perform safety checks at domestic factories.

Probes by the ministry and Nissan found the automaker to have carried out illegitimate inspections at all six of its car assembly plants in Japan, with at least five plants suspected of deliberately falsifying paperwork to cover up the practice.

The recall also affected the automaker's business plan, as Nissan said later in the day it will postpone the announcement of its mid-term business plan to Nov. 8 from Oct. 16.

Nissan said it is recalling 1.16 million vehicles made between January 2014 and September 2017, down from its initial announcement of 1.21 million vehicles after subtracting some cars for commercial use and those that had passed appropriate inspections while in inventory.

Dealerships will notify customers if their cars must be brought in for inspection.

Affected vehicles include the Note hatchback, Serena minivan, Leaf electric car and Murano crossover sport utility vehicle.

The automaker said the number of recalled models had increased from the initial 24 to 38, as it chose to count variants of the same vehicle as separate models and added 10 cars manufactured for other automakers including Mazda Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp.

Keiichi Ishii, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, said Friday he is considering revising regulations on car registration after the Nissan scandal came to light.

Cars in Japan must be checked every few years by certified inspectors to be registered for road use. Cars manufactured domestically are inspected as they come off the assembly line, allowing the vehicles to be registered without having to be taken to a separate facility to be approved.

"We will be looking at whether (regulations) can be improved so that final inspections are properly performed," he told a press conference.

Ishii said documents from at least five of the Nissan factories in Japan showed unqualified staff had signed off on safety checks for years using the seals of certified inspectors, a finding that suggests paperwork was deliberately falsified to cover up the illegitimate checks. Officials are still investigating the sixth plant.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said earlier this week the automaker is continuing an internal probe and is scheduled to report its findings to the ministry at the end of the month. He said the recall would cost the company around 25 billion yen ($220 million).

The automaker is also reinspecting 34,000 vehicles held in inventory at factories and dealerships in Japan before registering and selling them.