Mitsubishi Admits to Manipulating Fuel Economy Data on 625,000 Cars

Japanese-market micro-cars were less efficient than test results suggested

a href="">Mitsubishi has admitted that it has overstated the fuel economy data on four micro-cars sold in Japan. In total, 625,000 vehicles are affected. The announcement has caused the automaker’s stock to drop by 15 percent, representing a $1.2 billion loss in market value, according to Reuters.

The Japanese automaker announced it will discontinue the four offending cars, which include the Mitsubishi eK Wagon and eK Space, and the Dayz and Dayz Roox, which are manufactured by Mitsubishi for Nissan. In total, Mitsubishi has sold 157,000 eK Wagon and eK Space models and supplied 468,000 Dayz and Dayz Roox cars to Nissan. The automaker said that it manipulated the cars’ fuel economy figures to gain a “favorable reading for its fuel economy certification.”

Tetsuro Aikawa, Mitsubishi’s president, bowed in apology at a news conference in Tokyo. “We’d like to apologize for the issue,” said Aikawa. “The focus right now is to resolve this problem and prevent it from happening again … it could be quite damaging.” Shares for Mitsubishi Motors were down 15 percent at 733 yen, marking the biggest single-day drop in nearly 12 years. Nissan shares, on the other hand, dropped by 1 percent.

Despite its partner admitting to intentionally falsifying fuel economy data, Nissan said it has no plans on changing its relationship with Mitsubishi and wouldn’t comment on how the issue could impact their future micro-cars. In addition to manipulating the fuel economy data, Mitsubishi also admitted to manipulating the equipment used to measure a car’s rolling resistance and used a different testing system from other Japanese automakers.

Japan’s Transport Ministry has ordered Mitsubishi to submit a full report on the test manipulation within a week and said it would make a decision on how to respond to it by May 18. “We are disappointed this has occurred and regret that an incident like this can also happen in Japan,” said Takao Onoda, director at the ministry’s recall division. Mitsubishi also plans to set up a committee of external experts to investigate the issue and will publish the results as soon as possible.

The last controversy that involved Mitsubishi was back in 2000, when it covered up safety records and customer complaints. This eventually became Japan’s worst automotive recall scandal at that time. Four years later, Mitsubishi admitted that there were broader problems going back decades. The automaker is also the first Japanese marque to report misconduct involving fuel economy testing since Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating was discovered last year. Other automakers who have reported misconduct in fuel economy testing include Hyundai, Kia, Mini, and Ford.

Update: Mitsubishi said in a statement to Automobile, that it isn’t aware of any U.S.-spec vehicles that are affected by the fuel economy testing irregularity.