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Kobe Steel scandal: Millions of Toyota, Honda and General Motors cars could be a crash risk after metal scandal

Metal used to produce Japanese cars has been revealed to have false quality standards. Manufacturers like Honda, General Motors and Toyota are now investigating on what models and for how long it used the aluminium. The manufacturers both said the incorrectly rated aluminium was used in their cars over the last 10 years.

The metal scandal broke after Kobe Steel, one of the key Asian metal producers, said its staff had given false strength and durability ratings. The metals were delivered to hundreds of companies including car manufacturers, aeroplane firms and the space industry. While no safety concerns have been reported yet, a breach could result in a huge recall - similar to the Takata airbag scandal. TheSun


How could they falsify data for decade?

Edited by rollover

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It's not only the auto industry that's been impacted.


Explanation? Probably has something to with the fact that steel is very close to its physical limits as an engineering material.



“The steelmakers are really trying to protect their turf, because this is a life-and-death situation for them,” said Thanh Ha Pham, senior vice president in Japan for investment bank Jefferies Group LLC. “It’s improve or die.”

While Kobe Steel’s falsified reports may be an isolated incident in the industry, Japan’s steelmakers have spent a fortune developing new types of steel and other metals to meet demands from automakers for fuel-efficiency, whether the car has a 300 kilogram petrol engine under the hood, or a 300 kilogram lithium-ion battery. About two-thirds of the weight of most vehicles is still steel.

Reaching Limit

But some in the industry see a limit to how thin steel can go, because it would need to be so rigid that it can no longer be molded into car parts.

“We can keep going like this for another 10 years” Toshinao Minakuchi, head of the automotive steel sheet technical solutions department at Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., said in a Sept. 5 interview. “But at some point, the limit is coming for steel.”

Nippon Steel, Japan’s top producer, is working to improve both the strength and formability of its high-tensile steel by 20 percent to 30 percent over the next five to 10 years and is also conducting research on mixing steel with other materials.

The pressure for ever-lighter, thinner and stronger materials has prompted an increase in the use of other metals, such as aluminum, as well as advanced polymers and carbon fiber. Materials companies including DSM NA and Teijin Ltd. are to trying to marry the properties of steel and plastics by developing a new generation of hybrid products that integrate the two.


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What's all the talk of steel? article says the dodgy material is aluminium. The only steel bit is the company's name.

We had a sample vehicle part on the office floor the other week, it was a large aluminium casting with lots of machined holes and fittings, very fancy looking. At first glance I thought it was a gearbox casing or diff housing, but it was far too thin for that. Turned out it was a front suspension tower for new Range/Land rover. Massively complicated and expensive, I mean they used to be a bit of pressed steel, spot welded with a simple hole through the middle!


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  • 293 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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