Mitsubishi Motors has admitted today to manipulating fuel economy tests for 625,000 vehicles sold in Japan.
The manipulation involves four kei (small-capacity engines and compact dimensions) cars; Mitsubishi eK Wagon, Mitsubishi eK Space, Nissan Dayz, and Nissan Dayz Roox. Out of the total 625,000 vehicles, the majority of the vehicles are the Nissan models.
"The wrongdoing was intentional. It is clear the falsification was done to make the mileage look better. But why they would resort to fraud to do this is still unclear," said Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa at a press conference.
According to BBC News, the manipulation was done by adjusting the tire pressures when testing fuel economy on a rolling road. Nissan uncovered the manipulation as they were unable to replicate the fuel economy figures that Mitsubishi got.
"This discovery was made during Nissan’s assessment of data from the current model as part of our development of the next-generation vehicle. We immediately brought the discrepancy to the attention of Mitsubishi, as they are responsible for the development and homologation of the current vehicles. In response to Nissan’s request, Mitsubishi admitted that data had been intentionally manipulated in its fuel economy testing process for certification," Nissan said in a statement.
Both Mitsubishi and Nissan have stopped selling the models and are currently figuring out a compensation for affected owners. Mitsubishi has also announced they will be conducting an investigation into overseas models as their internal investigation showed the manipulation was used on other Mitsubishi products.
"We will investigate why this happened and prevent a recurrence. We will inform our customers. I feel horrible they were given the wrong numbers," Aikawa said.
After the announcement was made, shares in Mitsubishi dropped 15 percent, knocking off about $1.2 billion of the company's market value.
This is another black mark for the Japanese company. For more than a decade, Mitsubishi has been trying to regain confidence from the market after it was revealed the company covered up a number of defects involving axles that could cause the wheels to detach.
“It’s again bad for the company’s image. It’s not the first time for Mitsubishi to have this kind of issue, and this definitely won’t help them rebuild their reputation,” said Seiji Sugiura, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center to Automotive News.
Statement from Mitsubishi is on Page 2
Improper conduct in fuel consumption testing on products manufactured by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC)
In connection with the certification process for the mini-cars manufactured by MMC, we found that with respect to the fuel consumption testing data submitted to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), MMC conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates; and that the testing method was also different from the one required by Japanese law. We express deep apologies to all of our customers and stakeholders for this issue.
The applicable cars are four mini-car models, two of which are the "eK Wagon" and "eK Space" which have been manufactured by MMC; and the other two are the "Dayz" and "Dayz Roox" which have been manufactured by MMC and supplied to Nissan Motors Corporation (NM) since June 2013. Up until the end of March 2016, MMC has sold 157 thousand units of the eK Wagon and eK Space and supplied 468 thousand units of the Dayz and Dayz Roox to NM.
Since MMC developed the applicable cars and was responsible for obtaining the relevant certifications, MMC conducted fuel consumption testing. In the process of the development for the next generation of mini-car products, NM examined the fuel consumption rates of the applicable cars for NM's reference and found deviations in the figures. NM requested MMC to review the running resistance(*) value set by MMC during tests by MMC. In the course of our internal investigation upon this request, MMC learned of the improper conduct that MMC used the running resistance value for testing which provided more advantageous fuel consumption rates than the actual rates. MMC will sincerely respond to our customers who own and use the applicable cars.
(*) running resistance: rolling resistance (mainly generated by tires) and air resistance while vehicles are moving
We have decided to stop production and sales of the applicable cars. NM also has stopped sales of the applicable cars, and MMC and NM will discuss compensation regarding this issue.
During our internal investigation, we have found that the testing method which was different from the one required by Japanese law has been applied to other models manufactured by MMC for the Japanese domestic market.
Taking into account the seriousness of these issues, we will also conduct an investigation into products manufactured for overseas markets.
In order to conduct an investigation into these issues objectively and thoroughly, we plan to set up a committee consisting of only external experts. We will publish the results of our investigation as soon as it is complete.