The fire extinguisher! Fire extinguisher!
A man’s loud voice sent tension through the parking lot. The man’s gaze caught sight of a car with fire coming from its hood. The sudden fire plunged the scene into chaos.
Big Motor, a major used car sales company with annual sales of 700 billion yen, has been uncovered for a series of fraudulent activities. In the April 20 issue of this magazine, we revealed that the company was overcharging customers for labor and insurance by drilling holes in their tires under the direction of the factory manager, as well as falsifying oil changes and fraudulent vehicle inspections.
In the midst of all this, this magazine obtained a new and surprising video. It is the “fire video” described at the beginning of this article. It was shot at Big Motor’s Kumamoto Hamasen store in December 2009. Mr. A, who provided the video, worked at the Kumamoto branch for about two years from 1919 and was in charge of the maintenance department.
The car that caught on fire was a car that the store had taken in because of engine malfunction. The fuse attached to the engine was blown, but the factory manager reconnected it without identifying the cause. He also turned on the engine and left it running. As a result, a fire broke out, and the prefectural police and fire department were dispatched to the scene.
In the middle of the 50-second video, Mr. A and his crew are seen working hard to extinguish the fire after noticing something was wrong. The fire was quickly extinguished, but the customer’s car was covered in powder from the fire extinguisher and part of the hood was charred, leaving it in a pitiful state.
The plant manager’s own blunder in setting a customer’s car on fire was surprising enough, but what was even more shocking was his post-fire response.
Mr. A continues, “I heard that Big Motor did not pay any compensation to the customer for the fire. The factory manager insisted that the car suddenly caught fire when the prefectural police questioned him about it. The plant manager also told me not to say anything. The Kyushu area manager must have been aware of the situation, but took no action.
Mr. A also expressed his regrets when interviewed by this magazine.
The company kept running away without fulfilling its responsibility until the very end. The most pitiful people are the customers. I myself was left with a sense of helplessness, knowing the truth and being unable to do anything about it.
What does the head office think about the plant manager’s cover-up? This magazine sent a letter of inquiry to Big Motor, but again, no response was received by the deadline.
What is behind the rampant misconduct? Kumiko Kato, an automotive journalist and expert on the automobile industry, says, “Profit supremacy may be one factor.
The president is still Hiroyuki Kaneshige, but his son has been the head of management for several years. Since that time, the supremacy of profit has become more pronounced. In one example, I heard that it was at this time that ‘negotiations for a reduction in the price’ began. One of the users I interviewed said that his Alphard, which was appraised at 2.5 million yen, was reduced by 500,000 yen because he was told that it ‘had a history of repairs,’ even though it had never been in a major accident or undergone repairs. One of Big Motor’s current employees who agreed to be interviewed confessed that he had received instructions from the top to ‘reduce the appraisal value for any reason.
Since large incentives are paid to those who achieve their quotas, many employees seem to be involved in fraud even though they feel bad about it. This kind of sloppy management will never be tolerated.”
Will the company continue to disregard its customers and pursue profits? As a leading company in the used car industry, its true value is being questioned.
From the May 26, 2023 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Courtesy of Mr. A