Toyota Motor Corp. cleared aluminum parts supplied by Kobe Steel Ltd. of safety concerns, giving the embattled steelmaker a respite as companies around the world rush to check the safety of their products following revelations of data falsification.
Shares of Kobe Steel rose, erasing earlier losses, after Toyota said aluminum plates received directly from the steelmaker and from other suppliers met both internal and statutory standards. The plates were used in parts such as hoods and rear hatches, it said. Honda Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. also gave an all-clear on aluminum parts supplied by Kobe.
Japan’s biggest automaker is broadening its investigation beyond aluminum, to include copper tubes, steel wires and steel powder used in its vehicles, the company said.
American manufacturers, including automotive giants Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. and the nation’s biggest plane maker, Boeing Co., are among some 500 companies worldwide affected by a supply chain tainted by admissions that Kobe falsified certifications on the strength and durability of metals going back to at least 2007.
A Kobe Steel executive said late Wednesday the company expects to issue a new safety inspection report as early as next week.
The executive, who asked not to be named because the information isn’t public, also said there haven’t been any fresh reports of data irregularities. On Friday, the company added nine items to its list of affected products, making 16, and said it was still checking the safety of five of them with customers. It had already deemed the other four safe. The units implicated in the crisis make the steel, copper, aluminum and other materials that account for over half the company’s revenue.
The U.S. Department of Justice has asked for documents related to the faked data, but the agency hasn’t set a timeline for Kobe’s submission and didn’t identify specific products in its request, the executive said. The Japanese company has said it will cooperate fully with U.S. authorities.
Later Thursday, Japan’s transport ministry will hold a meeting with department officials responsible for airplanes, automobiles, trains, marine vessels and construction, according to officials from the ministry who asked not to be identified because the meeting isn’t public.
Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker reports second-quarter results on Oct. 30, and has said it can’t yet quantify the impact of the scandal on its earnings. Shares are down almost 40% in Tokyo since the crisis began at the start of last week, although there haven’t been any reports of product recalls or specific safety concerns raised by its customers. The stock gained 3.8% to 858 yen as of 12:58 p.m. in Tokyo.
Europe’s air-safety regulator has recommended that companies using material from Kobe review their supply chains and -- if alternative suppliers are available -- suspend purchases from the Japanese company. Aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc is among the latest firms to say it’s studying suppliers to assess its exposure to Kobe products.
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has also asked the company for a report on the scandal, including causes and remedies.
In other developments, two Japanese brokerages, Imamura Securities Co. and Hokuhoku Tokai Tokyo Securities Co., said they canceled sales of structured notes linked to Kobe Steel in light of the risks related the company.
By Masumi Suga and Kevin Buckland