ANOTHER MANUFACTURER: Suzuki has been added to the list of scandal-hit companies after it came to light that it had also cheated in emission tests. Image: iStock
Tokyo - Suzuki on Wednesday admitted it found "discrepancies" in its fuel-economy and emissions testing, but denied that it manipulated data to make cars seem more efficient than they were.
The remarks came after the small carmaker's shares dived in Tokyo on reports it had used improper testing, after rival Japanese automaker Mitsubishi was hit by revelations it cheated on fuel-efficiency tests for decades.
"Any wrongdoing, such as manipulation of fuel efficiency data, were not found," Suzuki said Wednesday.
"Some discrepancies were found in the automobile emission and fuel-efficiency testing process" between the testing method required by the government and what Suzuki did, the company statement added.
Two million cars affected
Sixteen models and about two million cars were affected, but the problem did not extend to cars sold outside Japan, according to Suzuki, which has a major presence in India through its Maruti Suzuki unit.
Suzuki said it has been using the improper testing since 2010.
The firm's shares dived Wednesday as investors took it as the latest bad news for a global auto industry shaken by scandals over deadly defects and emissions cheating.
Suzuki stock plunged as much as 15% in afternoon trading. It closed 9.4% lower at $24.
The Suzuki news comes amid the Mitsubishi revelations and as Germany's Volkswagen struggles to drive past a worldwide emissions cheating scandal.
Tokyo-based auto parts giant Takata has also been hit by lawsuits and regulatory probes over claims it hid deadly airbag flaws linked to at least 13 deaths and scores of injuries globally.
Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki, a descendant of the company's founding family, visited the transport ministry Wednesday to discuss the issue.
The 86-year-old executive was speaking to a news briefing Wednesday afternoon.
The transport ministry has ordered all Japan's automakers to probe their own compliance with government testing methods after Mitsubishi admitted last month it manipulated data to make its cars seem more fuel efficient than they were.
Major players Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Mazda have already denied any wrongdoing.
But in a separate case, Seoul said this week it will fine Nissan for allegedly manipulating emissions data on a popular diesel sports utility vehicle sold in South Korea.
The news came as an embarrassment for Japan's number two carmaker, but the company has so far not come under fire for emissions cheating in Japan or anywhere else.
The Suzuki admission did not appear as serious as Mitsubishi's revelations.
Koji Endo, managing director at Advanced Research Japan, said:"But even so, using a different testing method than the one ordered by the government is a problem."
Mitsubishi is also expected to submit a report to the ministry on its testing Wednesday.
Its president Tetsuro Aikawa plans to quit the crisis-hit company, Japan's leading Nikkei business daily said.
Last week, Nissan threw an unexpected lifeline to Mitsubishi by offering to buy 34% of its shares, in a deal that would give Nissan effective control over the smaller firm.
The scandal - reported to cover almost every model sold in Japan since the early 1990s - also includes mini-cars produced by Mitsubishi for Nissan as part of a joint venture.
It was Nissan that first uncovered problems with the fuel economy data, but Mitsubishi has said Nissan had no part in the cheating.
Nissan's top executive warned last week that he would kill the $2.2-billion offer if the Mitsubishi scandal spreads beyond Japan.
Other stories on emission scandals:
NISSAN: 'Nissan illegally manipulated data'
VOLKSWAGEN: Emissions scandal: World's largest sovereign wealth fund to sue VW
RENAULT: Is Renault embroiled in emissions scandal?
MITSUBISHI: Mitsubishi fuel cheating on 'almost all' Japan models