TOKYO -- Little more than a year ago, Toyota Motor Corp.’s truck-making subsidiary Hino Motors entered into a Japan-wide commercial vehicle consortium to speed the shift to electrification.
Now, after being snarled in a series of embarrassing emissions and fuel efficiency scandals, Hino has been summarily expelled out of the group, casting a cloud over its future direction.
Toyota and Hino announced the decision to expel Hino on Wednesday, with Toyota saying Hino’s “misconduct” was incompatible with the group’s “aspiration and goals.”
The world’s largest automaker orchestrated the creation of the Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corp., or CJPT, in April 2021 to help transition Japanese commercial vehicle makers for the shift to battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell and self-driving technologies.
It initially brought together Toyota, Hino and Isuzu, with Toyota agreeing to take a 4.6 percent stake in Isuzu as part of the tie up. Toyota already held a 50.1 percent stake in Hino.
Suzuki and Daihatsu later joined CJPT to develop electric mini vehicles for commercial use.
Hino fell into trouble in March with the revelation that it had been falsifying emissions and fuel economy data dating back as far as 2003. The scandal snowballed this week when Hino said new problems were discovered in a light-duty engine, after earlier revelations in other power plants.
“We are extremely disappointed with the company's misconduct,” Toyota President Akio Toyoda said of Hino. “Hino has committed misconduct in engine certification for a long period of time, and the company is in a situation where it is not to be recognized as one of the 5.5 million individuals in the Japanese automotive industry.”
Hino employees falsified tests on engines used in 643,635 vehicles over the years, with 66,817 of the trucks now subject to recall.
Hino’s continued participation in CJPT will “inconvenience” the other corporate members as they work toward the technologies of tomorrow, Toyoda said.
A day before Hino’s expulsion, Toyota questioned the truck maker’s role in the partnership.
“I think CJPT will need to make a decision about what to do with the Hino situation,” Toyota Chief Communications Officer Jun Nagata said.
“Unless Hino employees are resolved to change their corporate culture from deep down, things will be quite difficult, no matter what kind of turnaround plan Hino draws up.”
Hino has blamed the missteps on workers being overburdened by the fast pace of work and on a corporate culture that discouraged people from reporting problems to management.
“Considering the fact that the misconduct in relation to certification testing has been long-term and widespread, we can only say that we have not even reached our starting point in solving these issues,” Hino said after its expulsion. “We take this decision very seriously.”