Hino emissions scandal rattles Toyota partnership

Hino was summarily expelled from a newly created, Japan-wide commercial vehicle consortium of Toyota-affiliated companies to speed the industry’s shift to electrification.

Toyota said Hino’s “misconduct” was incompatible with the group’s “aspiration and goals.”

The Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies Corp., or CJPT, was created in 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 minivehicles for commercial use.

Hino’s scandal is especially embarrassing for Toyota as critics ding the automaker and its CEO for sticking to an electric-gasoline hybrid vehicle strategy as the industry rushes into pure EVs.

The revelations at Hino echo a spate of final inspection misconduct at other Japanese companies in 2017 and 2018 that tripped up rivals Nissan and Subaru, among others.

At the time, Toyota was one of the few Japanese automakers untouched by various oversights flagged by regulators.

Last week’s development at Hino was all the more aggravating for Toyota because it came to light during an on-site inspection by Japan’s transportation ministry — not by Hino itself.

In filing for emissions certification, Hino measured emissions only once at a specified measurement point when it should have measured at least twice.

This month, a group of U.S. plaintiffs sued Hino and Toyota in U.S. District Court in Florida, seeking damages on behalf of those who purchased or leased Hino trucks during the 2004 to 2021 model years.

In addition to making large trucks and buses such as the Hino 700 Series heavy-duty truck, Hino assembles the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and formerly made the popular Toyota FJ Cruiser, both with Toyota engines.

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