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This is a strange one, so strange in fact that Toyota’s new boss wants it investigated immediately. At issue is an unauthorized assembly line safety fix at a Daihatsu facility making Toyota Yaris Ativ sedans. The procedure allowed the doors to pass side-impact safety tests. Nobody knows how the fix came about, who authorized it, and how 88,000 Yaris sedans were made with the jury rig, including former Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. 

Blue 2023 Toyota Yaris Ativ front 3/4
2023 Toyota Yaris Ativ | Toyota

The modification involved notching interior door panels. This notch worked so the break that happens when the airbag deploys in a collision, doesn’t create sharp edges that could injure passengers. So the notch weakens the panel enough to break at that point.

Toyoda calls the discovery “unacceptable.” He apologized for what he said is a violation of consumer trust. Toyota’s CEO also said that no injuries or accidents occurred as a result of the fix on the fly, according to Reuters.

“We’ll proceed with a detailed investigation from here on, but promise to decisively understand what happened at the site, investigate the true intentions, and sincerely work to prevent a recurrence,” Toyoda said. “We’re going to need some time to do that.” However, there is no need for concern in the U.S. The Toyota Yaris Ativ sells mostly in Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico, and the Middle East. 

Black 2023 Toyota Yaris Ativ front 3/4
2023 Toyota Yaris Ativ | Toyota

“We have to find the cause of what happened, including examining the environment in which it happened, and once we’ve confirmed that to take appropriate action to address the underlying cause,” said Toyota President Koji Sato. Toyoda added, “We can’t run away from this or hide.” 

The obvious point is you can’t have those involved in the manufacturing side making changes to vehicles approved for sale in a certain configuration. As this involved a change to correct an issue while official testing was underway means the practice may be above those at Daihatsu responsible for assembling the vehicles.

Daihatsu has been owned by Toyota since 2016. It handles the assembly of some of Toyota’s smaller vehicles. Known for the Charade and Rocky SUV, the company has not sold vehicles badged Daihatsu in the U.S. since 1992. 

Blue 2023 Daihatsu Taft SUV on grass
2023 Daihatsu Taft SUV | Daihatsu

Daihatsu vehicles were only sold in the U.S. for a short time, from 1988 to 1992, with a caveat. Interestingly, you can buy a new Daihatsu in America. It imports the Hijet utility vehicle for off-road purposes. You may have seen them at the golf course or on farms. 

It also sold its vehicles throughout Europe around the same time until it pulled out in 2013. Toyota always had a controlling interest in the automaker, before buying Daihatsu in 2016. 

There are new Daihatsu vehicles that sell throughout the world. It makes a variety of SUVs including the new Terios, and sedans like the Ayla and Axia.  


Whatever Happened to Daihatsu?