• Kyodo

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Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is likely to have sold over 2 million cars since 2002 using data collected by a method not compliant with Japanese regulations for gauging fuel economy, sources said Monday.

Mitsubishi Motors, tarnished by a scandal over its fuel economy data, is believed to have conducted driving tests on over 10 models without following Japanese regulations and submitted the data to the government.

The fuel economy of the models was calculated by using running test data, according to the sources. The running test method is used in the United States and can save testing time but is not approved in Japan.

Last week, Mitsubishi Motors admitted that data had been manipulated to make four minicar models look 5 to 10 percent more fuel efficient than they actually are, dealing a blow to the automaker that has been seeking to break from past recall-linked scandals.

Around 625,000 units of the eK Wagon, eK Space as well as the Dayz and Dayz Roox supplied to Nissan Motor Co. are affected. Mitsubishi Motors has suspended production and sales of the models.

Mitsubishi Motors said Monday it will report to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism with more details of the data manipulation on Tuesday, followed by a press conference by MMC President Tetsuro Aikawa.

The Japanese automaker is expected to submit proper data and the recalculated fuel economy of its vehicles, mainly the minicars in question, the sources said.

Mitsubishi Motors faces a deadline on Wednesday to provide the transport ministry with an update on the scandal.

Minivehicles with engines no larger than 660cc are cheaper and their maintenance costs are lower than regular cars.

In addition, Japan has been offering tax breaks to buyers of eco-friendly cars in a bid to shore up demand.

If the fuel economy of the eK Wagon had not been boosted, the minicar would have been excluded from the list of green cars whose buyers are exempt from paying acquisition and weight taxes, according to calculations by Mitsubishi Motors.

The revelation raises the possibility that Mitsubishi Motors exaggerated the fuel economy data to prevent such a scenario, as the automaker has been competing with rivals Honda Motor Co., Daihatsu Motor Co. and Suzuki Motor Corp. in the minicar category.

Although Mitsubishi Motors is still looking into the scandal, it could be forced to shoulder massive costs to compensate buyers of its cars who used the government’s incentive program for green cars, according to analysts.

Domestic sales of minicars have been hit by the country’s consumption tax hike in 2014 and the introduction of a higher ownership tax on the car category in 2015.

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