The transport ministry on Friday introduced new penalties for automakers who manipulate mileage data, including production suspensions, as the deceptions issued by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. continue to mar the reputation of the Japanese auto industry.
The new measures, which include surprise inspections, were announced by Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii but have already drawn criticism for the paltry size of the penalties, which are capped at ¥300,000 ($2,940) per case.
The move comes after scanal-ridden Mitsubishi Motors was found to have used falsified data to give a more favorable impression of its vehicles’ fuel efficiency.
Even after it was caught and ordered to conduct new tests, Mitsubishi Motors manipulated the subsequent retesting process to once again generate more favorable results.
“We cannot help doubting the company’s commitment to compliance and prevention. This is an extremely regrettable and serious situation,” Ishii said.
In addition, even though the ministry was able to issue the automaker a warning, it lacks the power to strip it of its sales and production authorizations or impose a fine.
Mitsubishi Motors has temporarily suspended some of its vehicle production and sales voluntarily. It has admitted that all of the models it has sold in the past 10 years were tainted by the mileage scandal and that it used improper data for eight of nine models during retesting.
Suzuki’s data manipulation involved 26 models.