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A Mitsubishi dealership in California. Mitsubishi admitted to using deceptive fuel emissions tests for the past 25 years; it is unknown precisely how many vehicles were affected. (Photo: Reuters)

Mitsubishi Lied About Vehicle Emissions for 25 Years

Japanese car manufacturer used tests that gave lower emissions readings since 1991, after such tests were outlawed in Japan

Nika Knight Beauchamp

Following VW's smog-testing cheating scandal in September, Mitsubishi on Tuesday announced that its employees used outdated emissions testing methods outlawed in Japan on millions of vehicles sold since 1991.

The outdated methods violated Japanese regulatory standards and provided deceptively low results for emissions measurements. The environmental impact of Mitsubishi's decades-long deception is as of yet still undetermined.

The New York Times reports:

The automaker said it still did not know exactly how many models had been given exaggerated fuel ratings. But it said it now believed it had been using unapproved methods since 1991—a period that covers dozens of vehicle introductions and millions of cars and trucks.

Mitsubishi has been reviewing its tests since the revelations that it had cheated on ones for the mileage ratings of small-engine microcars that it sells in Japan and supplies to another Japanese automaker, Nissan, through a joint venture agreement. Nissan engineers discovered the discrepancy last year, the company said.

Last week, Mitsubishi said its cheating on fuel economy tests had affected 620,000 vehicles sold in the Japanese market since 2013.

Mitsubishi "said it had been submitting non-compliant data to Japan's transport ministry since 1991," Reuters reported, while the company "previously said such non-compliance went back only to at least 2002."

Mitsubishi's deception only applied to cars sold in Japan; the fuel tests Mitsubishi used are allowed by U.S. regulators.

"Tetsuro Aikawa, Mitsubishi Motors' president, said an inquiry led by three external lawyers had been opened," the BBC reported. "We don't know the whole picture and we are in the process of trying to determine that. I feel a great responsibility," the news broadcaster quoted Aikawa as saying.

The revelation has cut the value of the automobile giant in half, CNN Money reports. "JPMorgan auto analyst Akira Kishimoto estimated the cheating could cost Mitsubishi more than 50 billion yen ($450 million), including payments to consumers, the cost of replacing parts and compensation to Nissan," writes teleSUR.

Mitsubishi's admission brought to fruition observers' expectation that the VW scandal would give rise to further revelations of emissions standards cheating throughout the auto industry.

"Is this happening in other countries and is this happening at other manufacturers?" John German of the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT), a European-based NGO, declared when news of VW's scandal broke last fall.

Some Mitsubishi executives appeared to have been in the dark about their company's widespread cheating.

"Ryugo Nakao, executive vice president, said Japanese regulations changed in 1991 to require testing methods to better reflect stop-and-go urban driving," Reuters writes, "but Mitsubishi Motors did not follow that rule change. 'We should have switched, but it turns out we didn't,' he said."


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