Mitsubishi Motors has confessed falsifying fuel economy test data for more than 600,000 vehicles sold in Japan, putting its shares down to more than 15 percent and cutting down $1.2 billion from its market value, the stock’s biggest day drop in nearly 12 years, reports Reuters.
At a media briefing in Tokyo on April 20, Mitsubishi Motors president Tetsuro Aikawa, together with company bosses, appeared dismayed over the issue.
"The wrongdoing was intentional. It is clear the falsification was done to make the mileage look better,” said Aikawa. “But why they would resort to fraud to do this is still unclear.”
While he said he is unaware of the irregularities, he said he feels responsible for the issue.
He added that the issue was already reported to Japan’s transportation ministry.
The problem was discovered after Nissan suspected inconsistencies.
The inaccurate tests involved 625,000 cars built since 2013. The impacted vehicles included 157,000 light passenger vehicles and 468,000 cars manufactured for Nissan Motor.
Nissan has already ordered its dealers to discontinue selling the affected cars and is already looking for ways on how to extend its help to owners of the affected vehicles.
Last year, Volkswagen was uncovered to have manipulated diesel emissions test results.
“This may be different from Volkswagen’s issue, but the market has become very sensitive to such kind of news,” said Tokai Tokyo Research Center Seiji Sugiura. “It may have a similar impact in terms of sales and the company’s reputation.”
Before this fuel emission tests scandal, Mitsubishi has been hoping to bring back the confidence in its cars after facing a series of issues more than a decade ago. These include the alleged flawed axles that, according to Bloomberg, “led the carmaker to seek multiple bailouts from Mitsubishi group of companies.”
Sugiura said the new issue is again bad for the automaker’s image, adding that this scandal will certainly not help in rebuilding its reputation.
In 2014, South Korean car makers Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp paid penalties amounting to $350 million to the United States government for overstating the fuel economy ratings of their vehicles. The automakers have also arrived at a resolution regarding the claims from the owners of the affected vehicles.