The Mitsubishi fuel-economy scandal is continuing to blow up. The most recent news is that the company’s corporate headquarters (as well as a manufacturing plant) in Nagoya were raided by the Japanese Transport Ministry at the end of week.
The Japanese government seems intent to cut this thing off if possible, making an example of the company and its fraud rather than letting Mitsubishi get off easy.
The news follows closely on the revelation that some of Mitsubishi’s most popular SUV models had fraudulent stated fuel-economy ratings — including the Outlander and the Outlander Sport (sold under a different name in the US market). Following this news, the Japanese government put a stop on the sale of the models in question.
Owing to the stopping of sales, and just the generally very negative PR, the company has seen its sales take a nosedive in Japan — leading to what’s expected to be (for the year 2016) the company’s first major losses in more than 8 years. Nissan has taken advantage of this to some degree, and recently acquired a roughly 30% stake in the competitor.
As we reported previously, it’s interesting to note here that the driver of the fraud seems to have simply been a corporate culture where results were demanded, even if they weren’t actually possible. As the Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal also showed, many of the “improvements” of recent years to petrol and diesel vehicles has been the result of fraud. There’s only so much that you can do to improve the fuel economy of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles at this point. The low-hanging fruit is all gone at this point.
The way has been paved in Japan for one genuine potential improvement to ICE fuel economy, though. That’s the removal of external side mirrors — which are responsible for significant air-drag (lower drag coefficients) — and their replacement with unobtrusive camera systems. Authorities in the country recently approved their removal in consumer vehicles for the first time.
Maybe it will also push Mitsubishi, Nissan, Japan, and others toward electric vehicles more quickly as well.
We’ll keep you posted when the news of what authorities discovered during this recent raid becomes public. For more background on the scandal, see: Mitsubishi Execs Were Warned By Employee About Fuel-Economy Fraud Back In 2005.
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