Mitsubishi Motors mileage scandal widens, US regulator seeks information
TOKYO – Mitsubishi Motors Corp’s fuel economy scandal broadened on Friday as US auto safety authorities said they were seeking information and after reports that the automaker submitted misleading data on at least one more model than disclosed and likely several more.
Japan’s sixth-largest automaker admitted this week it had overstated the fuel efficiency of 625,000 cars, wiping off around 40 percent of its market value, or $3.2 billion (2.2 million pounds) over three days, and prompting a raid by Japanese authorities on one of its facilities.
Adding to fears that the scandal will lead to ballooning compensation and fines, top Japanese government officials said Mitsubishi could be responsible for reimbursing consumers and the government if investigations find the vehicles were not as fuel-efficient as claimed.
“This is a serious problem that could lead to the loss of trust in our country’s auto industry,” Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii told a news conference on Friday.
He said he wanted Mitsubishi to look at the possibility of buying back the cars in question.
The government would also ask the automaker to pay for any subsidies granted to consumers if data shows its cars do not meet necessary fuel economy standards, Jiji news agency quoted Internal Affairs Minister Sanae Takaichi as saying.
Domestic media reported that Mitsubishi had submitted misleading mileage data on its i-MiEV electric car, which is also sold overseas. Previously disclosed models are marketed specifically for the Japanese market and Mitsubishi has admitted to manipulating their fuel economy readings.
The Sankei newspaper also said the automaker is also suspected of using non-Japanese test methodology on its RVR, Outlander, Pajero and Minicab MiEV models.
Mitsubishi had said there may be more models that violate Japanese regulations. A spokesman said on Friday the company was still looking into those models.
An official at the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Reuters the regulator had asked Mitsubishi Motors for information on vehicles sold in the United States. -Reuters