A new “VolksWagen case” is on the horizon of the Rising Sun, albeit on a smaller scale. Mitsubishi Motors, historic Japanese auto maker, has admitted that he rigged the data related to the energy efficiency of some of its vehicles.
The president of the group, Tetsuro Aikawa, called a press conference in Tokyo to apologize to customers, and stakeholders of Mitshubishi, revealing that data relating to 625,000 vehicles were falsified to increase the values of mileage and simulate a minor fuel consumption. 157 thousand of these are branded Mitsubishi, while the remaining 468 thousand were produced for Nissan. In all cases, these are mini cars with an engine size of 660 cc, very popular on the Japanese market.
The company also admitted to violate of the Japanese law, adopting irregular test methodologies since 2002. The revelation has prompted the Japanese Ministry of Transportation to launch a judicial investigation to verify the extent of counterfeiting and the related damage inflicted on consumers .
The only certain damage, for now, is what Mitsubishi has inflicted to the value of his own actions: after the press conference of Aikawa, in fact, the capitalization value on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped by 15 percent: a hard stop for the profits of the sixth Japanese auto maker, so far driven by the growth of global demand for automobiles.
The problems, moreover, could not be limited to vehicles identified to date, since the group is conducting further internal investigation to determine if the vehicles sold outside Japan have been tested with the same irregular methods.
According to the preliminary estimate made by a JP Morgan analyst, the scandal could cost the holding about 50 million yen ($ 450 million), consisting of customers compensation and replacement costs. But the real damage, for Mitsubishi, could be the impairment of the brand reliabilit, whose repercussions in economic terms are currently not quantifiable.
The revelations have produced an immediate reaction from the Japanese authorities. The police conducted a raid on one of the main offices of Mitsubishi Motors, in the city of Okazaki, to collect documentation and has ordered the company to provide, within the 27th of April, a detailed report on the situation and test so far conducted on vehicles. The aim of the authorities is to understand how the tests have been falsified and verify that the scandal has not greater proportions of those until today emerged.
It is not the first time that Mitsubishi is forced to restore consumer confidence. In the early 2000s, the Japanese giant faced another scandal, when it emerged that some of its cars had a number of serious defects, as malfunctioning brakes and clutches and tanks that fell off the vehicle while driving.
The Walkswagen scandal, which cost to Wolfsburg company 6.7 billion dollars and the loss of substantial market shares, isn’ttherefore remained an isolated case, and only the future will tell us how many other manufacturers have rigged the data on emissions, cheating consumers, to add some zero to their income.