Days after admitting it manipulated mileage test data on hundreds of thousands of cars it made in the last three years, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. made a stunning announcement that it has been overstating fuel economy in millions of its vehicles made and sold over the last 25 years. On April 26, Mitsubishi officials said the fraud goes back as far as 1991.
The scope of Mitsubishi’s fuel-economy scandal is so massive that company officials said they don’t know yet just how many cars and trucks with overstated mileage it has sold over the past quarter century. The problem also potentially affects millions Nissan vehicles made by Mitsubishi in a joint venture. In fact, Nissan engineers were the first to discover the discrepancy last year when testing the performance of DayZ mini cars made by Mitsubishi for Japanese consumers.
Initially, Mitsubishi president Tetsuro Aikawa admitted Mitsubishi engineers knowingly gave its compact cars exaggerated fuel ratings by manipulating the conditions under which the vehicles were tested. The company disclosed that the fraud affected about 620,000 vehicles sold in Japan since 2013. The fraudulent mileage testing data was done for Mitsubishi’s eK Wagon, eK Space, Dayz and Dayz Roox minicar models – which were marketed as getting up to 71 miles per gallon – and was handed over to Japan’s regulatory body, The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
The Dayz models have also been sold to Nissan Motors Corp. since 2013, according to a Mitsubishi statement. Accounting for all cars through March, the company said it’s sold 157,000 of the eK Wagon and eK Space models and supplied 468,000 thousand of the Dayz and Dayz Roox to Nissan.
Mitsubishi is halting production and sales of the affected cars and says that “taking into account the seriousness of these issues,” it intends to launch an investigation into products manufactured for overseas markets, including the U.S. Mitsubishi said further:
In order to conduct an investigation into these issues objectively and thoroughly, we plan to set up a committee consisting of only external experts.
The hit Mitsubishi has taken in its domestic market could be a potentially devastating one for the car company, which had already become a tarnished brand in Japan following previous revelations that it hid reports of dangerously defective vehicles for decades.
It’s still not known how Mitsubishi’s testing methods could affect its cars sold for the U.S. market. The tests Mitsubishi used are approved in the U.S. but not in Japan because they produce more flattering fuel-economy results in the lab than in actual real-world conditions.
Mitsubishi shares tumbled in value to a record low following the announcement, and the company has lost half of its market value. The scandal also prompted Mitsubishi to withhold its earnings forecast when it announced its quarterly performance. The results of the overseas investigation will be released as soon as the probe is finished, according to the automaker. We are watching this matter closely.
Sources: CNN, New York Times
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