There will be smiles in the executive suites at Volkswagen today as the spotlight on cheating. lying, weaseling car companies has moved on, however briefly, from it to Mitsubishi. The Japanese auto maker admitted yesterday that it deliberately misstated the fuel economy numbers for 625,000 cars it built since the middle of 2013.
The cars involved include the Mitsubishi eK mini-wagon sold in various markets (but not in the United States) as well as 468,000 similar cars made for Nissan. All are what is known as Kei cars in Japan. That is a class of small automobiles limited by law to an engine size of 660 cc or less. Its announcement said it would stop manufacturing those cars immediately and would set up an independent panel to determine how all this cheating and lying happened.
Tetsuro Aikawa, president of Japan’s sixth largest auto maker by market value, bowed deeply and offered an abject apology at a news conference in Tokyo yesterday. “The wrongdoing was intentional. It is clear the falsification was done to make the mileage look better. But why they would resort to fraud to do this is still unclear,” he said.
In a separate statement, Mitsubishi said. “We express deep apologies to all of our customers and stakeholders for this issue. Taking into account the seriousness of these issues, we will also conduct an investigation into products manufactured for overseas markets.” The announcement trimmed over a billion dollars from the company’s share price. Shares were down 15% on Tuesday.
The cheating came to light after Nissan did its own testing and found the cars it was getting from Mitsubishi had lower fuel economy than expected. It appears the engineers who did the testing substantially over-inflated the tires of test vehicles. Hard tires have less rolling resistance, which results in inflated fuel economy figures.
The admission puts greater focus on the danger of allowing manufacturers to self-report emissions, fuel economy, and safety data to regulators. Market pressure makes it all too easy to justify cheating in the name of meeting sales goals. The Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal would never have come to light if independent testing didn’t reveal the discrepancy. Putting the onus on companies to provide accurate compliance information is like asking bank robbers to correctly report the proceeds from their nefarious activities on their tax returns.
Source: BBC News