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Mitsubishi admits 25 years of fuel manipulation

Small problem: Mitsubishi’s tiny Japan-only eK Space is one of the vehicles caught up in the company’s fuel test scandal that has been going on since 1991.

Fuel test scandal widens at Mitsubishi with admission that it started in 1991

Mitsubishi logo27 Apr 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

MITSUBISHI Motors Corporation has admitted that fuel consumption data manipulation for its Japanese market cars has been going on for 25 years – much longer than previously announced.

The company also said it would widen its investigation beyond 625,000 Mitsubishi-made mini “kei” cars sold under the Mitsubishi and Nissan brands.

It announced the appointment of a high-powered independent committee to “get to the cause of this improper conduct and who is responsible”.

So far, the scandal appears to be confined to vehicles sold in Japan, although definitive assurances on that have yet to be given.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited last week released a statement saying it was monitoring the situation, and today, head of communications Shayne Welsh said there was not much more she could add.

The sixth largest Japanese motor manufacturer has been savaged on the Japanese stock market since the news broke, reportedly losing half of its value, about $A3.9 billion.

Japanese reports suggest authorities have raided one of the company’s research and development centres.

In the United States, Automotive News reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has directed Mitsubishi to provide additional information on its US vehicles. It also has asked the company to do additional tests on vehicles in future.

The latest disclosure of “improper conduct” came to light in a report by Mitsubishi management to the Japanese ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.

The nub of the issue revolves around a so-called “coasting test” used to measure vehicle resistance under mandatory rules. The data collected under such tests is used to calibrate dynamometers to simulate real-world driving for fuel tests.

According to the report, the issued started in 1991 when Mitsubishi began using a “high-speed coasting test” instead of the standard coasting test to measure vehicle resistance, contrary to the Road Transport Vehicle Act.

“In January 2001, a test was run that compared the coasting test to the high-speed coasting test and the difference in results was found never to exceed 2.3 per cent,” it said.

“In February 2007, the testing manual was updated to add that the coasting test is to be used for DOM (domestic market vehicles). Nevertheless, the high-speed coasting test continued to be used thereafter.” Mitsubishi admitted the test breached Japanese law.

The next step for Mitsubishi is an investigation by an independent committee of three lawyers led by a former top Tokyo prosecutor Keiichi Watanabe.

“The committee shall investigate the matter for about the next three months, and make a report on its results,” the company said in a statement. “MMC plans to disclose the report in a timely manner.” Last week, the news of the fuel test manipulation broke when Mitsubishi apologised for improper testing for Japanese-market mini cars, including 157,000 Mitsubishi eK Wagons and eK Spaces, as well as 468,000 MMC-built Nissan Dayz and Dayz Roox from June 2013 to March 2016.

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