Mitsubishi admits to manipulating fuel consumption figures

After Volkswagen's admission of false emissions data last year, it was Japan's Mitsubishi Motors' turn to cut a sorry figure yesterday - over falsified fuel consumption figures.

Mitsubishi said more than 600,000 small-engined vehicles, so-called kei cars-that benefit from tax breaks and other incentives in Japan were affected.

The problem came to light after Nissan found discrepancies in fuel-economy data, which it reported. Mitsubishi produces several models including mini-cars "eK Wagon" and "eK Space", and the "Dayz" and "Dayz Roox" for rival Nissan.

"We found that with respect to the fuel consumption testing data... (the company) conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates," Mitsubishi president Tetsuro Aikawa told a Tokyo news briefing.

He went on to add that the testing method was "different" than the one required under Japanese law, and warned that the automaker's bottom line would take a hit.

"This is not a simple problem and we need time (to assess the impact)," he added.

Following the admission, officials from Japan's transport ministry raided a Mitsubishi Motors research and development centre in the city of Nagoya this morning. According to local media, government might levy fines against the company.

''This has critically damaged consumers' trust and it won't be tolerated,'' top government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga said today. ''It's an extremely serious issue.''

Mitsubishi's Tokyo-listed shares took a heavy beating today plunging 20 per cent after which trading in the stock was halted.

The company's stock plunged 15 per cent yesterday ahead of the news briefing, when it admitted the falsification.

Mitsubishi reported sales of over a million vehicles at home and overseas in its latest fiscal year.

Mitsubishi's stock plunge yesterday, was the biggest one-day plunge since 2004.

Mitsubishi Motors said it would also check whether the cheating extended to overseas models, adding that it was unable to estimate the impact of the manipulation on its business at this time.