Caitlin Moran
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Mitsubishi Motors Cheats in Fuel Economy Testing, Joins VW on List of Liars

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MItsubishi eK Wagon

The Mitsubishi eK Wagon is one of four models Mitsubishi falsified fuel economy ratings for

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s likely you have heard about Volkswagen and its huge diesel engine-related scandal—better known as Dieselgate. The wily German automaker tweaked its “clean diesel” engines to pass emissions testing, not caring that these engines emitted up to 40 times the legal emissions limit in everyday operation. Since Dieselgate erupted, more and more officials are starting to question the methods carmakers are using to test their eco-friendly aspects. And now, another carmaker has bitten the dust.

I’m looking at you, Mitsubishi.

Betty White

Mitsubishi Motors has admitted to falsifying fuel economy data for more than 600,000 vehicles sold in Japan—and the car models weren’t just Mitsubishis.

While the fraudulent acts did affect 157,000 of Mitsubishi’s own cars, it also affected two Nissan models that Mitsubishi manufacturers for the other company. The four specific models affected by the false fuel economy data include Mitsubishi eK Wagon and eK Space, along with Nissan’s Dayz and Dayz Roox.

And it looks like Nissan was the one to figure Mitsubishi out. As Nissan examined the fuel consumption figures of the affected cars to reference in the development of the next-generation models, it noticed some discrepancies. The Japanese carmaker then asked Mitsubishi to review the running resistance value—a combination of the rolling resistance and air resistance while on the move—which caused an internal investigation.

According to a Mitsubishi press release, “In the course of our internal investigation upon this request, Mitsubishi Motors learned of the improper conduct that Mitsubishi Motors used the running resistance value for testing which provided more advantageous fuel consumer rates than the actual rates.”

Ironically, the models affected are all kei cars, which are known for their extremely small size and top-notch fuel efficiency.

It appears that Mitsubishi was able to falsify the fuel economy in its testing labs. To determine the fuel economy of a vehicle, each model is placed on a rolling road, which is essentially a treadmill for cars. Apparently, because you can adjust how resistant the rolling road is, Mitsubishi was able to deliberately use the wrong tire pressure for the vehicles. This allowed the carmaker to get more miles per gallon out of the cars, since over-inflated tires tend to have better gas mileage.

Regardless of how the fraud happened, it’s obvious that it is going to affect the brand in a serious way. When the scandal broke, Mitsubishi’s shares in Tokyo plummeted faster than a drunk on a mountain bike, decreasing more than 15%.  I imagine it looking a bit like this:

Cat Falling Down Stairs

During a press conference this afternoon, though, Mitsubishi Motors president and other head honchos were obviously ashamed of the scandal. After beginning the conference with deep bows, Aikawa stated, “The wrongdoing was intentional. 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.”

He went on and said that, though he was completely unaware of the irregularities, “I feel responsible.”

This isn’t the first time Mitsubishi has faced a scandal due to its underhanded dealings. In the early 2000s, it was revealed that the Japanese carmaker had covered up a number of problems, including failing brakes, faulty clutches, and fuel tanks that quite literally fell off vehicles.

This is the first time a Japanese carmaker has tampered with fuel economy tests, though.

While Mitsubishi has stopped the production and sale of the applicable cars, there is no word yet on how the brand is going to help out those consumers that already own the faulty vehicles. It looks like Mitsubishi and Nissan will also be working out a compensation plan.

A born-and-raised Jersey girl, Caitlin Moran has somehow found herself settled in Edinburgh, Scotland. When she’s not spending her days trying to remember which side of the road to drive on, Caitlin enjoys getting down and nerdy with English. She continues to combine her love of writing with her love of cars for The News Wheel, while also learning more about the European car market—including the fact that the Seat brand is pronounced “se-at” not “seat” as you might think. See more articles by Caitlin.