Suzuki Admits It Performed Improper Fuel Economy Tests

CEO apologizes, but says his company didn't cheat

The list of automakers involved in emissions or fuel economy scandals grows yet again. This time around, Suzuki today admitted its testing methods deviated from the ones set by the Japanese government, which led to erroneous emissions and fuel efficiency data for many of its vehicles.

Suzuki’s report is the result of the Japanese government’s recent mandate requiring automakers in the country to investigate and report on their emissions and fuel efficiency testing procedures after Mitsubishi admitted to cheating and manipulating fuel economy data.

In a statement released by Suzuki, the automaker claims its proving ground in Sagara, Japan, is located on a hill where it’s susceptible to extreme weather like strong wind. The wind made it difficult for engineers to gather consistent and accurate data in the coasting tests, especially with the automaker’s lightweight microcars. As a workaround, Suzuki tested individual components like tires, brakes, and transmissions in a controlled environment and combined the results for the finalized data. Unfortunately, the automaker’s solution goes against the procedure set by the government.

According to Bloomberg, Suzuki boss Osamu Suzuki apologized for results of the investigation, but says his automaker did not cheat or maliciously manipulate data.

Suzuki says it retested its vehicles using the proper method and says the data closely matches the original numbers. The automaker says the variation between the results doesn’t warrant an adjustment in fuel economy figures already published. That could change, however, following further investigation from the Japanese government.

Suzuki says it will employ proper testing protocols immediately. Bloomberg reports the improper test methods have been in place since 2010, affecting 16 models and a total of around 2.1 million vehicles.

Suzuki’s admission comes after Mitsubishi confessed to overstating fuel economy figures on at least 625,000 vehicles. The aftermath has rocked the automaker, leading to Nissan’s decision to sell its 34-percent stake in the company and the resignation of Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen continues to deal with its diesel emissions scandal, which has sparked regulators around the world to scrutinize automakers for possible misconduct. South Korea, for example, recently accused Nissan of cheating emissions on its diesel-powered Qashqai crossover, but the automaker continues to deny those claims in the ongoing investigation.