Whistleblower Reveals Japanese Engine Manufacturer Faked Fuel Data

IHI engine
IHI is a leading marine engine company including its recently released ammonia-fueled engine seen here (IHI Power)

Published Apr 25, 2024 6:50 PM by The Maritime Executive


Japan’s IHI Power Systems Company, a leading manufacturer of engines used in marine and land applications including trains, issued an apology and official “Notice of Misconduct” after a whistleblower revealed the company has been altering fuel consumption data for decades. The company is confirming that an internal investigation found that “improper alterations” were made to the test operation records with reports saying it was going on since the 1980s at one manufacturing plant and since 2001 at the other.

Inspectors from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism conducted raids at the company’s two manufacturing plants located in Niigata and Gunma prefectures. Officials from the ministry were reported to be collecting information and interviewing people the day after the company issued a formal apology saying it sincerely regretted the betrayal of trust.

The fraud came to light when an employee in February 2024 reported that the fuel consumption rates provided to customers when engine products were shipped were being alerted from the actual results during the tests. The company launched an internal investigation and now reports it was able to confirm the widespread efforts to alter the results.

The company produces marine engines and the reports are the products include those shipped to the Japan Coast Guard and private companies. The land-based engines are also likely in trains operating on the Hokkaido Railway.

The depth of the fraud was highlighted in the internal report that says more than half the engines shipped did not meet specifications. They found 58 models of marine engines and 40 models of land-use engines were involved. The company shipped nearly 4,900 marine engines of which 86 percent had altered data. The land-use segment is much smaller involving 656 shipped units.

The company reports it is still investigating to determine if any laws were violated for the marine engines. For the land-engines, they report there were no specific regulations.

“Concerning marine engines, we have confirmed that there are cases that are at risk of deviating from the standards for marine products in the NOx regulations established according to the Act on Prevention of Marine Pollution and Maritime Disaster and the International Maritime Organization. In addition, regarding the fuel consumption rates prescribed by the Fishing Boat Inspection Regulations, we have confirmed that there are cases that are at risk of deviating from the standards.”

They are reporting that there have been no confirmed cases about the safety of the engines during test operations and actual use.

IHI Power is involved in some of the most innovative engine projects currently underway. They were working on the ammonia-fueled engine for the conversion of the NYK tugboat as well as other ammonia applications. They also reported the development of battery-powered engines.

Media reports are indicating it is the second time the parent company IHI Corporation has admitted misconduct. In 2019, the group’s aircraft engine part company admitted misconduct in the manufacturing of parts and was ordered to improve its operations.