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Mitsubishi admits to cheating economy tests for 25 years

Published: 28 April 2016

 Mitsubishi admits cheating on economy tests
 Update: Mitsu cheated since 1991
 K-cars' tyre pressures were higher than normal 

Mitsubishi's cheating on fuel economy tests stretches all the way back to 1991, it has been confirmed. The news is a serious setback to the company which had initially claimed the scandal affected only a small number of niche K-cars not sold in the UK.

What started as a small blip has already wiped out half of Mitsubishi's market valuation in a tumultuous week and bosses are talking of a fight for the company's survival. 'I'm taking this as a case that could affect our company's existence,' admitted president Tetsuro Aikawa.'

Will heads roll?

The chief executive and chief operating officer have denied they are preparing to stand down.

Mitsu has appointed a task force with independent investigators to get to the bottom of really went on. The confirmation that cheating on economy tests dates back to 1991 seems certain to widen the scandal that only affected 600,000 K-cars.

Will it soon affect cars sold in the UK? We're about to find out...

How Mitsubishi cheated

The car maker revealed on 20 April 2016 that it had uncovered evidence that the impartial emissions and fuel consumption tests undertaken by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) had been falsified on more than 600,000 cars.

The models affected were Japanese domestic market K-cars, including some it built for Nissan: 157,000 of its Mitsubishi eK Wagon (below) and eK Space (the boxier car below), and 468,000 Nissan Dayz and Roox tallboy city cars.

The Mitsubishi eK Wagon The Mitsubishi eK Space

They had over-inflated the tyres to change their driving characteristics and flatter their mileage rates, Mitsubishi admitted. It has suspended sale and production of all four models while an investigation is carried out.

'Deliberate cheating'

'The wrongdoing was intentional,' said president Tetsuro Aikawa, who bowed deeply at the press conference in Tokyo. '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.'

The chief denied he knew about the irregularities until an investigation sparked by the Volkswagen emissions scandal uncovered evidence of cheating. Click here to read all about the VW crisis.

Is my UK Mitsubishi affected?

Not yet. The only cars where cheating on emissions tests has been confirmed are Japanese-market models. UK managing director Lance Bradley told reporters: 'Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has acted quickly and decisively. We understand that such issues are of great concern to consumers. I would like to reassure everyone that there is no evidence to suggest that UK or European models are affected.’

However, it is likely that worried consumers will jump to conclusions; the episode has certainly done Mitsu no favours - or the wider car industry, still reeling from the aftershocks of 'dieselgate' and loss of consumer confidence.

Now it's a matter of waiting to see if the fuel economy crisis, dating back to 1991, spreads to other vehicles, and especially ones sold for export.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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