Caitlin Moran
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Everything You Need to Know About the Mitsubishi Fuel Economy Cheating Scandal

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Mitsubishi eK Wagon

The Mitsubishi eK Space is one of four vehicles Mitsubishi tampered with
Photo: DY5W-sport via WordPress

Last week, news broke that Mitsubishi has pulled the wool over the eyes of the car industry for the past 25 years. The Japanese carmaker reportedly cheated during fuel economy tests for more than 600,000 vehicles, including the Mitsubishi eK Wagon, Mitsubishi eK Space, Nissan Dayz, and Nissan Dayz Roox.

Since I last reported on this scandal, a rush of information has been released, ranging from how the brand was actually able to cheat, the length of time it was cheating, and whether or not it affects US models.

Honestly, this is might just be the most media attention Mitsubishi has gotten since its last scandal 15 years ago.

To make it easier for you to stay up-to-date on what’s going on with the scandal so far, I’ve gathered all the information that has been released so far and put it in one convenient place. With no further ado, here is everything you need to know about the Mitsubishi fuel economy cheating scandal.

How They Did It

When Mitsubishi’s scandal was first discovered, many were wondering how, exactly, they managed to tamper with fuel economy ratings so much. Well, as it turns out, it was rather easy to do.

In 1991, Japan changed its fuel economy testing rules. It specifically issued rules for a “coasting test” to determine the air resistance of a vehicle. Rather than using this method, though, Mitsubishi decided to create an alternate method to determine the calculated figure for air resistance. This method, which Mitsubishi refers to as a “high-speed coasting test” led to higher fuel economy results than the government-mandated method.

So what does this mean? Because of the rule changes to Japan’s coasting test, Mitsubishi began cheating on fuel economy tests in 1991.

Tsk, tsk, Mitsubishi.

Batman Tsk Tsk Gif

The Japanese carmaker went on to say that a January 2001 comparison of the two methods (the government-sanctioned vs. the tampered method) found that the difference never exceeded 2.3%. But, according to other reports, the overstatement in fuel economy has ranged from as much as 5% to 10%, which is no small amount.

In its statement, Mitsubishi also claimed that it instructed its employees to begin using the government’s methods in February 2007. It seems like Mitsubishi’s employees don’t like to listen, though, because they did not stop using the method until they were discovered by Nissan this month.

How They Did It | The Aftermath | Mitsubishi in the US | Conclusion 


The Aftermath of Scandal

Mitsubishi’s sales in the United States have never been good, but the Japanese carmaker has done decently in its home market. Well, until now. After word of the fuel economy scandal broke, shares in the company began plummeting almost immediately. If I remember correctly (and I definitely do because I just looked at the article I wrote last week), I compared the company’s shares falling to this cat:

Cat Falling Down Stairs

Well, it turns out it was more like this:

Dalek Falling Gif

That poor, poor Dalek.

To say that Mitsubishi is in a lot of trouble because of this scandal is a severe understatement. According to Reuters, vehicle orders in Japan have been cut in half—and they’re likely to get worse soon. There are even questions as to whether or not Mitsubishi will manage to stay in business.

So, I guess that means we’ll never get the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on American soil.

Since the scandal broke, Mitsubishi Motors has also set about launching an external investigation similar to the one it did when it had its first scandal 15 years ago. During that scandal, the company admitted to covering up customer complaints for more than two decades.

Needless to say, when Mitsubishi decides to cheat, it’s in it for the long haul.

It’s likely that, as a result of this scandal, Mitsubishi will take a page from the book of Volkswagen and ask both its CEO and COO to resign. Reports are already saying that Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko has already told a few dealers and parts makers that he’s planning on stepping down.

There was no Mitsubishi spokesman available to comment on this, though.

How They Did It | The Aftermath | Mitsubishi in the US | Conclusion 


Did Mitsubishi Cheat in the United States?

Mitsubishi Motors Normal Illinois Assembly Plant Sign

Mitsubishi Motors North America’s head honcho Don Swearingen has made the claim that US models are no affected by the scandal

The simple answer to this question is no.

When the scandal was first reported on, many Mitsubishi dealerships and owners in the United States feared that their vehicles would be affected, too. According to a report from Automotive News, though, it looks like there were no testing problems with cars sold in the United States between the model years 2013 and 2017.

“Our findings confirm that fuel economy testing data for these US market vehicles is accurate and complies with established EPA procedures,” said Don Swearingen, COO of Mitsubishi Motors North America.

This report came after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered Mitsubishi to give them further information on its US models. Because of this request, Mitsubishi had to conduct additional “coast down” tests for its vehicles.

How They Did It | The Aftermath | Mitsubishi in the US | Conclusion 



Mitsubishi Logo history analysis badge emblem red via Flickr

It will be interesting to see how Mitsubishi recovers from this scandal

There is no word yet as to how Mitsubishi will compensate the car buyers who own tampered vehicles. But, based on the example of Volkswagen, it’s likely that there will be a buyback coming sometime soon.

How They Did It | The Aftermath | Mitsubishi in the US | Conclusion 


News Sources: Reuters; Sunday Times; Reuters; Automotive News (Subscription Required); CarScoops; Digital Trends

  • Caitlin MoranEditor

    A born-and-raised Jersey girl, Caitlin Moran lives in Dayton, Ohio at the moment and loves getting down and nerdy with English. After recently graduating from the University of Dayton with her Masters in English Literature, Caitlin is now combining her love of writing and cars for The News Wheel. She is also continuing her love affair with traveling, broadening her knowledge of foreign automobiles. See more articles by Caitlin.