Looks like Mitsubishi Motors is in the thick of it once again. After having its name dragged through the mud in the aftermath of a massive recall-cover up 15 years ago, the Japanese automaker has admitted to manipulating mileage test data for various vehicle models.
The inaccurate tests involved 157,000 of its eK wagon and eK Space light passenger cars, as well as 468,000 Dayz and Dayz Roox vehicles produced for Nissan. Each of these vehicles is classified as a "minicar" whose main appeal is having great mileage.
The falsified tests surfaced after Nissan noticed that there were inconsistencies in the data, which overstated fuel efficiency by five to 10 percent. After bringing it to Mitsubishi's attention, the automaker conducted an internal probe and found that tire pressure data was indeed falsified to make mileage appear better than it actually was.
"The wrongdoing was intentional," said company president Tetsuro Aikawa, who bowed in apology before a briefing in Tokyo on Wednesday. "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."
Mitsubishi also declared that it has launched an investigation to determine who is responsible, but in the eyes of many, the effort will be too little, too late for the automaker who had struggled for years to win back consumer trust after various auto defects affecting its cars since the 1970s were made public in the early 2000s.
The company's shares fell 15 percent, cutting its market value to $6.6 billion, and the company said that the violation may result in it being required to pay back government tax rebates for the vehicles.
However, the scandal will do far more than just hurt Mitsubishi's bottom line; it is the latest in a long line of fraudulence that automakers have engaged in that will serve to harm the auto industry as a whole.
Volkswagen AG is already in the middle of a scandal of its own after admitting in 2015 that it had rigged diesel models with software to meet U.S. emissions standards. Before that, Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay $350 million in fines and forfeit emissions credits in late 2014 to settle claims that they overstated mileage ratings.
Interestingly, unlike some other scandals that occur elsewhere in the world, the ones in Japan did not result in the enrichment of individual employees. Rather, the workers who committed them simply wanted to "save face" for the company.