Mitsubishi Admits to Miscalculating Fuel Economy since 1991 [UPDATED]

Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II concept

In most ordinary automotive scandals, it takes months to years to uncover what drove executives to make poor decisions. Mitsubishi has taken only six days, and it’s just started digging.

Last week, Mitsubishi admitted to falsifying fuel-economy data on four Japanese-market kei cars, including two branded as Nissans. As of Tuesday, Mitsubishi said that starting in 1991, it had developed its own “high-speed coasting test” that spit out more optimistic numbers than the one mandated by the Japanese government. Among the many numbers for tire-rolling and air resistances calculated by Mitsubishi’s test, engineers selected a “relatively low value” for one trim of those late-model cars to “give the appearance of greater fuel [economy].” This was done, Mitsubishi said, to match higher fuel economy targets revised during the car’s development. Consequently, Mitsubishi then calculated fuel economy for three other trims, including one with a turbo engine and another with all-wheel drive, based on that flawed initial data.

We’re a little confused at what’s happening, but so is Mitsubishi. The company said that in 2001, an internal test showed that there was no more than 2.3-percent deviation between Mitsubishi’s coasting test and the official coasting test and that despite an employee manual produced in 2007 that explicitly required the government test, Mitsubishi continued using its own version.



Mitsubishi is looking into other Japanese and export models, which means its U.S. division could come under the microscope. A three-member committee of independent Japanese attorneys, including a former Tokyo city prosecutor, is leading the investigation and plans to release complete results in three months and divulge “who is responsible.” Scandal or not, that’s at least speedy by corporate standards.

Update 6/20, 11:00 a.m.: Mitsubishi is compensating owners in Japan up to $960 each (¥100,000) for the falsified fuel economy claims, according to the Associated Press. President Tetsuro Aikawa will resign at a later date.

Update 5/11, 10:00 a.m.: Mitsubishi instructed engineers to increase fuel-economy targets five times during development of the four Japanese models in question, despite an “overly optimistic outlook” that was viewed as “problematic,” according to a new company report. Fuel economy was “the factor that would give the most product marketing appeal,” even though there wasn’t a reasonable way to meet those targets.

Update 4/29, 9:45 a.m.: Mitsubishi Motors North America said that none of its cars in the U.S. are affected by fuel-economy discrepancies, at least for the 2013–2017 model years tested. The company said: “An entirely different system is used for the United States market to determine what the EPA calls Road Load Coefficient, strictly adhering to EPA procedures. The data generated is then independently verified for its accuracy before being submitted to the EPA for their fuel economy testing. MMNA has shared this information with EPA, California Air Resources Board and DOT.”

Update 4/27, 10:30 a.m.: The Environmental Protection Agency has just opened an investigation into Mitsubishi’s U.S. models, according to Automotive News.

Update 4/27, 10:00 a.m.: A translation error in Mitsubishi’s English press release misstated fuel economy as consumption. This story has been changed accordingly.

This story originally published on April 26.


from Car and Driver Blog http://blog.caranddriver.com/mitsubishi-admits-to-miscalculating-fuel-economy-since-1991/

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