Mitsubishi overstated mileage by up to 16%, finds probe

The Japanese government said today that Mitsubishi Motors Corporation overstated mileage on its vehicles by up to 16 per cent, but stopped short of slapping further penalties on the company.

The transport ministry said the figure came from its own mileage tests to look into the cheating by the Japanese automaker on its mini car models, tiny cars eligible for tax breaks in Japan and reputed to deliver very good mileage.

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Motors acknowledged recently it had systematically inflated mileage for its eK mini car models, as well as some other models. But it has said it did not lie on mileage on models sold abroad.

Last month, Nissan Motor Company took a 34-per cent stake in Mitsubishi, promising to help a turnaround (See: Nissan Motor buys controlling stake in embattled Mitsubishi Motors for $2.2 bn). Under a special agreement, Mitsubishi had supplied the models to Nissan, which does not make its own mini cars. Nissan's own tests had uncovered the mileage cheating.

The ministry said the mileage Mitsubishi initially gave was off by an average of 11 per cent and up to 16 per cent. That was close to what Mitsubishi had given when it acknowledged its wrongdoing and released new estimates. Mitsubishi is under orders to submit fixed data to the government.

"We find it deplorable that the actual mileage was so much lower," Minister Keiichi Ishii told reporters.

Mitsubishi Motors said last week that it will give 100,000 ($960) to each Japanese owner of a car with a false mileage claim to compensate for the extra gas costs and for inflating the mileage figure.

It will take a 50 billion ($913 million) charge to cover the mileage-rigging expenses, including for the eK minicar models sold in Japan since 2013, and also for those sold under the Nissan badge.

Mitsubishi's latest scandal follows its massive and systematic cover-up of defects that surfaced in the early 2000s, which had spanned decades. The automaker has repeatedly promised to fix its ethical standards.

The company's president has stepped down to take responsibility for the new scandal (After VW, Mitsubishi's top two bosses to go over mileage scandal).