back to article Toyota's truck brand Hino admits faking and fudging emissions data for 20 years

Toyota-owned heavy vehicle manufacturer Hino has admitted to misconduct concerning engine certifications going back to 2003, with improved data-handling practices and test software among the promised fixes. Hino admitted to misconduct in March 2022 and yesterday published a report [PDF] detailing its subsequent investigation …

  1. heyrick Silver badge

    Establish a system to preserve certification test records

    Oh my god.

    Where I work they perform bacteriological tests multiple times per day (it's a food factory). The results, including details of who did the test, where, and when, all have to be filed for something like five or six years. Thankfully these days it's data rather than boxes of paper records.

    Oh, and we also have to preserve a ridiculous number of self generated paper records (scanned into the system at the end of each day) such as product temperature after cooking in the oven, temperature of various things as it leaves the kitchens, periodic weights to ensure the machines (or employees) are dosing out the right amount, and there's a gizmo for the final product before boxing that detects metal contamination and weights every single thing, rejecting anything out of tolerance. When the production run is in the trend of thousands, that's a lot of data. All of this, and loads more I'm not aware of, is recorded every single day.

    So it seems unbelievable in the modern (computer) age that companies who have to perform mandatory testing of products have "issues" regarding the traceability of such tests and certifications awarded.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

      I wouldn't put too much stock in your disbelief that this is happening in the "modern (computer) age". This is Japan where nearly all businesses and half of homes still have (and use) fax machines.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

        As do we. Orders for things are made by website, and this is confirmed by a signed fax.

        It's a weird quirk of law that a signature on a fax carries legal weight (probably from the days when it was literally scanning the original document in real time) while a signature in an email is just a meaningless pasted graphic.

        This sort of thing matters when the orders are for tens of thousands of euros. That signature is a commitment.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

          ...quirk of law that a signature on a fax carries legal weight...

          A fax always sends a receipt to acknowledge the recipient has received the fax. Email can be configured to send a receipt but seldom is and even then is easy to spoof.

          It's the receipt of delivery that's important for legal documents.

          1. Mike 137 Silver badge

            Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

            @heyrick and @DJO

            Depends on the jurisdiction. There have been occasions in the UK when a plain text email (no actual signature) has been deemed to have formed a contract. UK contract law is silent about signatures. A simple contract only requires an offer and an acceptance, provided there is specific consideration (you can't make a contract to 'agree' something at a later date), and a contract can still be binding if these are only expressed verbally.

            1. DJO Silver badge

              Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

              Yes, it all hinges on verifiable acknowledgement so a verbal contact is enforceable if there was a trusted third party witness, a plain text email is fine if it can be proven to have been received and the same with electronic signatures alluded to in a message below.

              That's why in some cases a fax an be considered a legal document.

        2. afootytop

          Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

          England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have legally recognised electronic signatures since 2002. And, following the introduction of the eIDAS Regulations in 2016, eSignature can help you to collect electronic signatures in a safe and compliant manner

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

            Ever heard of any firm or individual that has an eIDAS certified signing identity in the UK? Genuine question - I'm not even sure how to start the process of obtaining one. As far as I can tell they're mostly fictional.

            Even if we did have one, of course it's no longer accepted outside of the UK because we're special european snowflakes.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

            Fortunately, you can't trust any that were signed by (I wish i could remember who recently patched a wildcard-signature bug). Seems like it was docusign, but I can't recall.

    2. Mike 137 Silver badge

      Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

      Someone I know used to work in the perishable food supply chain. They always got notice of external inspections and polished the place up for them - right down to changing the 'sell by' dates on product that was about to expire, and, in one notable case, dumping expired coleslaw back into the mixer with the new stuff instead of disposing of it (which would have to be recorded).

      "Compliance" is what you can get away with as long as nobody notices.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

        Not so much compliance there as outright corruption.

        The place where I work has three different audits.

        1, BRC-IFS. This is known about well in advance. There is a cursory walk around the production area, but it (five days of audit!) is mostly concerned with the protocols and the paperwork. If we fail this, we cannot sell food.

        2, Client audits. We make stuff for others to sell. This gives them the right to send somebody to perform an audit. They do not need to give any notice, but production usually gets about half an hour advance warning to polish the doorknobs and such. Given the really weird little nitpicky things that get noticed, I can't help but think that the criteria is not so much to check we're okay, but more "find anything wrong so we can renegotiate our prices". But that's just my opinion.

        3, Service vétérinaire audit. This is a government person that turns up to perform a spot check. They seem less concerned with the paperwork than the actual practice. But given that a failure would mean "everybody go home, this place is now closed", it's pretty important.

        There are always a few things picked up, it's natural. But otherwise we pass with good marks because food hygiene is important. In recent times there have been some pretty serious failures - Lactalis baby milk powder, poison pizzas, Kinder chocolate... having our company name uttered in the same hushed "how could that happen" way is not an accolade we're aiming for. Especially as bad food can make people quite ill. I have particularly good knowledge of that given a well known burger chain gave me the worst food poisoning I've ever had not so long ago. On the plus side, I've entirely kicked my fast food habit...

        Anyway, only the bureaucrat audit is known in advance. All of the others turn up unannounced and the manglement has to drop everything and handle it. The entire point is to see how things work day to day, not a specially curated visit. If these audits were known about in advance, important heads would be on the chopping block.

    3. GrahamRJ

      Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

      The big difference is that no-one has ever died, or even become ill, from a single vehicle's emissions. (Apart from suicide bids, of course, but it's not even been possible to do that since the 90s when cats became a thing.) This is very different from the food industry, where dodgy food absolutely *can* do nasty stuff to you.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

        Downvote because the idea that you can't kill yourself with a car that has a cat is bullshit.

        There's less carbon monoxide, not none. It's still deadly, it will still kill you, it just takes longer.

        https://www.mja.com.au/journal/1998/168/2/impact-catalytic-converters-motor-vehicle-exhaust-gas-suicides (first link I got that wasn't crap on Quora)

        Pertinent quote: Conclusion: Catalytic converters and the associated lower CO emission limits of 9.3 g/km had not, by 1995, resulted in a reduction in numbers, rates or percentages of exhaust gas suicides in Australia.

      2. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

        Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

        "The big difference is that no-one has ever died, or even become ill, from a single vehicle's emissions"

        Maybe not a 'single' vehicle but Google for something like "air pollution deaths" and you'll see that the World Health Organisation considers air pollution to be a cause of several million perhaps deaths per year - vehicle emissions being a major contributor to that air pollution.

        Also, in the UK, a legal landmark was set in 2020 when a coroner officially recorded air pollution (from vehicle emissions) as the cause of death for a girl who died in 2013. The enquiry took several years.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

          "a coroner officially recorded air pollution (from vehicle emissions) as the cause of death for a girl who died in 2013"

          Yes. No idea why there hasn't been a police investigation into the parents and council for killing her. It's just revolting to think the parents chose to use their daughter as a campaigning tool, at the expense of her life, rather than to move somewhere with better air quality. And the council definitely had a duty to act when the parents wouldn't. People should be in jail over this one. Of course traffic pollution is a bad thing and campaigning against it is a good thing, but they effectively murdered their daughter to promote their campaign.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Establish a system to preserve certification test records

            "And the council definitely had a duty to act"

            Grenfell.

  2. Big_Boomer

    Independant testing required.

    If you are going to deliberately falsify your emissions data then the best way to avoid getting caught out is to put the blame on inadequate data storage systems and processes rather than on the people who implemented those systems. Much like all the other diesel fraudsters this stinks like an overripe Durian. I'm sure lots of Hino owners will now be contacting HinoDieselClaim.jp to get their hands on some cash, whether they gave a rats arse about their trucks emissions or not.

    The only way to do that is for all testing to be independent of the manufacturer and for the test methodology to not be revealed or to be as close to a real world scenario as possible.

  3. Schultz
    Flame

    Just follow your nose...

    Walking through the city, it's quite easy to spot the cheating diesels: you can easily smell the emitted soot (smells like the dirty old heavy trucks) and the NOx (a sharp smell, somewhat similar to chlorine) all over the place. If you ride a bike, you can get a really nice dose when following an older SUV. And they smell in summer and in winter, so the 'engine protection' clearly is designed to kick in at a wide range of temperatures (although it's worse in winter). I'd therefore be willing to bet that the list in the article (Volkswagen, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, and Suzuki) is way too short.

    I am not sure if the newer ones just have improved diesel engines or if they switched to ordinary gasoline -- most newer SUVs smell a lot less. It's not about which company cheated (all the diesel manufacturers did), but just about who managed to make a transition before getting caught.

    1. KBeee Silver badge

      Re: Just follow your nose...

      I'm dredging this from my memory, so I may have misremembered a few details.

      In modern diesel vehicles soot is reduced by a DPF (diesel particulate filter), and NOX is reduced by either SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) or SNCR (Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction) using urea or ammonia.

      Many non-cheating car manufacturers were amazed that VAG managed to meet the new lower NOX regulations without either SCR or SNCR. Of course we now know the VAG cars had software to detect when the car was being tested and would tailor the engine management to reduce NOX production while testing.

      Newer petrol cars are also now fitted with particulate filters, even though this wasn't really anywhere near as big a problem as diesel particulates.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Just follow your nose...

      There's a reason we call it "diseasel"

  4. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    ...alongside Volkswagen, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, and Suzuki.

    You forgot to mention Volvo, who are the target of a class-action suit at the moment.

    Since Volvo are owned by Ford and use their oil-burners and also since Ford's oil-burners are PSA (Peugeot/Citroen) units, I suspect this still has a long way to run.

    Also note that VW, who got caught first, supply their smoke generators to their subsidiaries Skoda, Seat and Porsche.

    As Hino seem to have got away with it for 20 years, that looks more like success than failure when compared to the competition.

    1. MrBanana Silver badge

      Ford sold Volvo in 2010 to the Geely Holding Group. They no longer have any diesel engines, and now also have a fixed 180kph speed limit across the range. Some help to the environment, but could have come sooner.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    20 years!

    Sounds fair

    Stick them in a cell near the loading dock.

    That way they get to smell the delivery truck fumes.

  6. Mike 125

    All those 'tests'....

    The mystery isn't that it happened, and happens.

    The mystery is that they got/get away with it for so long.

    One explanation is that *all* manufacturers knew, all along. Else why did none blow the whistle.

    An obvious, realistic test was all it took.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: All those 'tests'....

      Everyone knew the tests were being gamed, including Joe Bloggs the consumer. Hence 'real world MPG' sites etc. We even knew, e.g., that VW's figures on paper tended to differ more from the real world figures than some other manufacturers.

      The only surprise was finding out quite how blatantly they were gaming the tests. The bit with test-detection and alter the behaviour to match was going much too far.

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "as if it was measured at the specified measurement points, despite results having been measured at the non-specified measurement points specified under laws and regulations."

    You can see how they might easily have got confused.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did they admit this themselves, or were they caught?

    It's a crucial point - did someone in Toyota discover the fraud and the company themselves bring it to light and start trying to fix it (trying to do the right thing), or were they caught by a third party and so this is a weak corporate apology?

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