Mitsubishi Motors mileage scandal widens, U.S. regulator seeks information

Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:15am EDT
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By Naomi Tajitsu and Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp's (7211.T: Quote) fuel economy scandal broadened on Friday as U.S. auto safety authorities said they were seeking information, and media reported that the automaker had submitted misleading data on at least one more model than disclosed and likely several others.

Japan's sixth-largest automaker admitted this week it had overstated the fuel efficiency of 625,000 cars, wiping off around 40 percent of its market value, or $3.2 billion in three days.

The revelations have also prompted Japanese authorities to raid one of its research and development facilities while Standard & Poor's warned its rating could be lowered further into speculative grade territory.

Adding to fears that the scandal will lead to ballooning compensation costs and fines, top Japanese government officials said Mitsubishi may have to reimburse consumers and the government if investigations find the vehicles were not as fuel-efficient as claimed.

"This is a serious problem that could lead to the loss of trust in our country's auto industry," Transport Minister Keiichi Ishii told a news conference on Friday.

He said he wanted Mitsubishi to look at the possibility of buying back the cars in question, while another minister was quoted by media as saying the government could ask it to pay for any electric car subsidies granted to consumers.

Domestic media reported that Mitsubishi had submitted misleading mileage data on its i-MiEV electric car, which is also sold overseas. Previously disclosed models are marketed specifically for the Japanese market and Mitsubishi has admitted to manipulating their fuel economy readings.

The Sankei newspaper also said the automaker is also suspected of using non-Japanese test methodology on its RVR, Outlander, Pajero and Minicab MiEV models.   Continued...

The logo of Mitsubishi Motors Corp is seen at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, April 21, 2016.   REUTERS/Toru Hanai