Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, the sixth largest carmaker in Japan, has revealed that it has been lying about its fuel economy statistics on more than 620,000 vehicles for three years now. The company’s stock price declined 15% as soon as the news broke out, the biggest fall it has experienced in the Japanese market in more than a decade.
Currently, it is believed that the affected cars include the minicars sold in Japan. The carmaker confessed that air and tire resistance had been reduced during fuel efficiency tests, generating figures that were 5% to 10% greater than what they are supposed to be. Moreover, Mitsubishi Motors admitted that the testing procedures used are not in compliance with the required standards in Japan.
This will cause Mitsubishi Motors to take a big hit. Government officials claimed that the company can be held responsible and will be compelled to reimburse customers. Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii reiterated that the Japanese car industry is widely affected as well, saying that the global market can easily lose its trust in all of the Japanese automakers. Moreover, the Japanese government also wants the company to pay for subsidies granted to its customers if investigations prove that the cars are not in accordance to the required fuel economy standards.
Accordingly, 468,000 of the affected vehicles have been supplied to Nissan as a result of a tie-up agreement. Nissan was actually the first to discover the irregularities when it performed its own tests on the DayZ minicar concept. Due to this cheating issue, Nissan immediately suspended the sales of the affected cars. Furthermore, Mitsubishi Motors is reported to have falsified the mileage data on the Mitsubishi Motors i-MiEV electric vehicle (EV), which is available worldwide. There are speculations that the Japanese carmaker also used non-Japanese testing procedures on its Outlander, Pajero, and RVR models.
Mitsubishi Motors is now conducting an internal investigation to identify the employees involved in this fuel economy controversy. However, Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa is convinced that the distortions were conducted intentionally.
The Transport Ministry ordered Mitsubishi Motors to disclose a full report regarding its testing procedures and data within a week. In line with this, other Japanese carmakers have also been mandated to submit their respective fuel economy testing procedures and data on or before May 18. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said that it has already requested further details about the forged fuel economy statistics from the company.
This cheating scandal is among the many deceptive practices reported in the automotive industry. It can be compared to the fuel efficiency controversies involving Ford, Hyundai, and Kia several years ago.