Mitsubishi Motors says has cash to ride out widening mileage affair

Wed May 11, 2016 8:40am EDT
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By Naomi Tajitsu

TOKYO (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T: Quote) is confident it has enough cash to weather a damaging fuel efficiency scandal alone, even as it warned incorrect data may have been used for more of its cars.

The Japanese carmaker last month admitted to overstating the fuel economy of four of its models - small cars sold in Japan, including two under Nissan Motor's badge.

On Wednesday, it said it suspected improper data was used for models among the nine current ones on the market, as well as models it no longer sells. Overseas models are not affected.

Analysts have estimated that Mitsubishi may have to pay close to $1 billion to compensate Japanese mini-vehicle customers over lost 'eco-car' tax breaks and extra fuel costs.

"Our finances through the year just ended have been strong, so we think we can manage the issue," Chief Executive Osamu Masuko told a press conference.

"We haven't approached our sister companies for financial support."

After a scandal more than 15 years ago - in which Mitsubishi Motors admitted systematically covering up customer complaints for more than two decades - Mitsubishi group companies came to its support. They rescued the auto arm with a major bailout.

Since the latest scandal broke on April 20, in the wake of last year's Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) diesel emissions revelations, the Japanese company's market value has fallen by around 42 percent, or $3 billion, on fears of compensation costs and collapsing sales.   Continued...

Mitsubishi Motors Corp Chairman of the Board and CEO Osamu Masuko (R) and President Tetsuro Aikawa attend a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai