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2019 March
of the Month

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Car and Driver: Dayz and Confused: Mitsubishi Admits to Overstating Fuel Economy in Japan

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Mitsubishi Motors Apologizes Over Fuel Economy Test Misconduct


The present embarrassment of Mitsubishi Motors is best illustrated by watching the “Ribbons of Shame” opening scene from Ron Howard’s 1986 comedy “Gung Ho.” Take a minute, laugh, and come back to read the rest. Only then will Mitsubishi’s flub over fuel economy figures in the Japanese market have context.



Four kei models produced by Mitsubishi—including two branded as Nissans—were advertised with higher fuel-economy numbers than the cars actually produced. Kei cars are microcars with a super-narrow track and an engine capacity no larger than 660cc that are exempt from certain parking restrictions and taxes. Mitsubishi’s kei cars are as funky as they sound (eK Wagon, eK Space), especially the Nissan versions (Dayz, Dayz Roox), but while the company was developing their replacements, engineers found “deviations in the figures” for air and rolling resistance that “provided more advantageous fuel consumption rates than the actual rates.”




None of this is particularly relevant to Mitsubishi’s U.S. division unless the company finds additional discrepancies with its exported vehicles. A panel of “external experts” is looking into the matter. A total of 625,000 cars are affected presently, and a stop-sale in Japan is already underway. It’s honorable, however, that Mitsubishi Motors president Tetsuro Aikawa (pictured at top) “bowed deeply” at the press conference Wednesday and said he felt “responsible” even for something as minor as gas mileage, according to a BBC report.




But Mitsubishi, as a second-tier Japanese automaker in terms of sales and production, is no stranger to large scandals. At the height of U.S. Mitsubishi sales in 2002, the company’s infamous “0-0-0″ plan (zero down payment, zero APR, and no payments for one year) imploded after too many buyers defaulted. In 2004, former Mitsubishi Motors president Katsuhiko Kawasoe was arrested in Japan for covering up vehicle defects just four years after the company admitted to another 20-year cover-up that led to a then-massive recall of 1 million cars. We’re hopeful Mitsubishi doesn’t want to star in a “Gung Ho” sequel.


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