Business / Corporate

Mitsubishi fuel-economy scandal spreads; at least two more models involved

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Wednesday it may have falsified data for the fuel efficiency tests of more vehicle models, including the nine models sold currently and in the past on top of the four already identified

While manipulated data may have been used, the Tokyo-based automaker said it has conducted proper tests on the nine models, including the RVR model, and that the actual fuel efficiency figures are not so different from the ones already advertised. Mitsubishi plans continue selling them.

As soon as the scandal broke last month, Mitsubishi stopped manufacturing and selling the affected four minicars: the eK Wagon, eK Space, Dayz and Dayz Roox, saying that the fuel efficiency gap was up to 10 percent.

The firm revealed Wednesday that the gap was actually up to 15 percent.

Mitsubishi said it may have submitted fuel economy figures for the RVR model based on calculations rather than the tests required by Japanese regulations.

The firm said it is still investigating the matter and will submit more concrete details to the transport ministry by May 18.

Osamu Masuko, chief executive officer and board chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, made a public apology at a news conference.

Asked whether he would step down from the post, Masuko said that for the time being he would not.

“As for the management responsibility, I don’t think I can avoid facing that by saying I didn’t know” that his employees ignored the regulations, he said.

“There are various ways to take a responsibility, and I believe getting the company on a stable path is one way to do it,” he added, indicating he intends to stay in his post.

The company was under pressure Wednesday to meet a transport ministry deadline requiring it to provide further details.

According to Wednesday’s report on the data falsification for the four minicars, the firm said people in charge were apparently under pressure to meet the fuel efficiency goal that had been raised five times from 26.6 km per liter to 29.2 km to compete with rival makers.

But the ministry officials said many things were still unclear, such as whether the data manipulation was conducted for other models.

Fuel economy is a determining factor in a government incentive program that offers tax breaks for owners of green cars.

Having come under fire in the past for covering up recall-linked problems, Mitsubishi Motors’ compliance is being further questioned over the latest scandal, which is expected to be more than a fender bender for the company’s balance sheet as the automaker has reported a halving of orders.

The firm is likely to face compensation claims from car buyers and the government, which subsidizes environmentally friendly cars depending on their economy figures.

It may also face claims from Nissan Motors Co., which assembled the Dayz and Dayz Roox.

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