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Mitsubishi admits to faking fuel economy test

AGENCIES | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Apr 21, 2016, 1:06 am IST
Updated Apr 21, 2016, 1:06 am IST
Tetsuro Aikawa, president of Mitsubishi, bowed in apology at a news conference for what is the biggest scandal at the company since a defect cover-up over a decade ago.
 Tetsuro Aikawa, president of Mitsubishi, bowed in apology at a news conference for what is the biggest scandal at the company since a defect cover-up over a decade ago.

Tokyo: Mitsubishi Motors Corp said on Wednesday that it falsified fuel economy test data to make emissions levels look more favourable, and its shares slumped more than 15 per cent, wiping $1.2 billion from its market value on Wednesday.

According to the Japanese carmaker, tyre pressure figures were falsified by employees to flatter mileage rates. The models which got affected include Mitsubishi’s ek Wagon and eK Space, as well as Nissan's Dayz and Dayz Roox.

The issue came to fore after Nissan found inconsistencies in around  470,000 vehicles that Mitsubishi made for Nissan. Apart from cars made for Nissan, 157,000 Mitsubishi cars are affected by this falsification.

According to Bloomberg, Mitsubishi modified the load weight of the cars during testing, which made them appear more efficient. Tetsuro Aikawa, president of Japan’s sixth-larg-est automaker by market value, bowed in apology at a news conference here  for what is the biggest scandal at Mitsubishi Mo-tors since a defect cover-up over a decade ago.

Shares in the company closed down more than 15 per cent at 733 yen. This was the stock’s biggest one-day plunge since 2004, Bloomberg News reported.

At that time, Mitsubishi was struggling to launch a turnaround as it teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, hit by a lack of cash and a series of huge recalls.

In 2000, Mitsubishi Motors revealed that it covered up safety records and customer complaints. Four years later it admitted to broader problems going back decades. It was Japan’s worst automotive recall scandal at the time.

The company said on Wednesday the test manipulation involved 625,000 vehicles produced since mid-2013. These include its eK mini-wagon as well as 468,000 similar cars it made for Nissan Motor.

The Japanese carmaker said it would stop making and selling those cars, and has set up an independent panel to investigate the issue. Mitsubishi Motors sold just over one million cars last year.

Mitsubishi Motors is the first Japanese automaker to report misconduct involving fuel economy tests since Volkswagen  was discovered last year to have cheated diesel emissions tests in the United States and elsewhere.

South Korean car makers Hyundai Motor Co  and affiliate Kia Motors Corp  in 2014 agreed to pay $350 million in penalties to the US government for overstating their vehicles’ fuel economy ratings. They also resolved claims from car owners.

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