Stricter rules eyed for automakers in Japan

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry officials enter the headquarters office of Mitsubishi Motors in Tokyo, Japan. Photo / Japan News
Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry officials enter the headquarters office of Mitsubishi Motors in Tokyo, Japan. Photo / Japan News

Japan's Transport and Tourism Ministry released Friday a draft report that includes plans for harsh punishments on automakers found to have committed wrongdoing in the future. The report describes reforms of the current inspection system for issuing vehicle model codes.

The ministry included a review of the inspection system in its draft preliminary report in response to fuel economy data falsification committed by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and also Suzuki Motor's violation of state regulations for collecting relevant data. A pillar of the report is to deter automakers from committing wrongdoing.

In the review, the ministry recognizes a flaw in the national inspection system, stating that "the government has conducted no particular checks of its own regarding data provided by automakers, based on a trusting relationship."

In reforming the model code issuance system, the ministry plans to give powers to national inspectors so they can attend automakers' fuel efficiency tests without giving notice.

In the event that wrongdoing is found, punitive measures would be imposed on automakers. These could include announcing the incident and subsequent rejection by government authorities of the automaker's applications for model codes.

Moreover, ongoing national inspections of other vehicles by a manufacturer that committed wrongdoing could also be suspended.

The transport ministry also plans to tighten inspections on automakers for a specified period, including more frequent attendance by national inspectors - who would arrive without prior notice - at their vehicle tests.

If these measures were actually imposed, automakers could face lengthy delays in their plans to develop, produce and sell vehicles. The measures would also hit the management of these companies.

The reforms are expected to make automakers aware of the disadvantageous position cheating could put them in and prevent them from being involved in wrongdoing.

The ministry will finalize the report around summer and then take procedures to revise the relevant law.

There have been complaints from consumers that the reality of fuel efficiency when they actually drive their vehicles differs greatly to the figures listed in sales catalogs. In response, the report stipulates that the ministry will consider implementing a new method for representing fuel economy data so that it reflects various driving environments, including weather variations and road surface conditions.

- Japan News.

- Washington Post

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