LARGER THAN EXPECTED: Japanese officials undisclosed that Mitsubishi rigged its emission tests and gave readings/results that were off by as much as 16%. Image: iStock
Tokyo - The Japanese government said Tuesday that Mitsubishi overstated mileage on its vehicles by up to 16%, but stopped short of slapping further penalties on the company.
The Transport Ministry said the figure came from its own mileage tests to look into the cheating by the Japanese automaker on its minicar models, tiny cars eligible for tax breaks in Japan and reputed to deliver very good mileage.
Unearthing the lies
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Motors acknowledged recently it had systematically inflated mileage for eK minicar models, as well as some other models. But it has said it did not lie on mileage on models sold abroad.
In May 2016, Nissan took a 34% stake in Mitsubishi, promising to help a turnaround. Under a special agreement, Mitsubishi had supplied the models to Nissan, which does not make its own minicars. Nissan's own tests had uncovered the mileage cheating.
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The ministry said the mileage Mitsubishi initially gave was off by an average of 11% and up to 16%. That was close to what Mitsubishi had given when it acknowledged its wrongdoing and released new estimates. Mitsubishi is under orders to submit fixed data to the government.
Minister Keiichi Ishii told reporters: "We find it deplorable that the actual mileage was so much lower."
Mitsubishi Motors said that it will give $960 to each Japanese owner of a car with a false mileage claim to compensate for the extra gas costs and for inflating the mileage figure.
It will take a $913 million charge to cover the mileage-rigging expenses, including for the eK minicar models sold in Japan since 2013, and also for those sold under the Nissan badge.
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Mitsubishi's latest scandal follows its massive and systematic cover-up of defects that surfaced in the early 2000s, which had spanned decades. The automaker has repeatedly promised to fix its ethical standards.
The company's president has stepped down to take responsibility for the new scandal.