Mitsubishi is facing big problems at home after admitting it used the wrong fuel economy tests on four minicars sold domestically in Japan for 25 years. Now, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to know if there’s been any funny business where Mitsubishi and U.S. emissions tests are concerned.
Tuesday, the EPA ordered Mitsubishi to conduct additional fuel economy tests and provide the agency with more information about its vehicles sold in the States.
EPA investigators and California Air Resources Board regulators are most interested in the “coast down” test and with good reason. Irregular “coast down” tests are the reason Hyundai, Kia, Ford and Mercedes-Benz had to relabel the fuel economy ratings on several models since 2012. In November 2014, Hyundai and Kia settled a two-year EPA investigation and paid a $350 million fine due to inaccurate “coast down” test data.
During the “coast down” test, the vehicle coasts to a stop from 80 mph. It generates data on aerodynamic drag, drivetrain friction and other factors used to simulate a vehicle’s real-world performance in the lab. There’s no word on whether the EPA will do its own separate tests.
Mitsubishi claims it used appropriate testing methods on vehicles sold in the United States and isn’t aware of any data manipulation in other vehicles. However, the automaker plans to conduct an internal investigation to see if any other models are involved. Meanwhile, Japanese authorities have already raided one of the company’s research and development facilities.
According to Reuters, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also seeking information from Mitsubishi. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said Friday that the Mitsubishi issue “is brand new. So right now we’re just collecting data.”
Mitsubishi is Japan’s sixth-largest automaker. The company’s market value has dropped by half since its admission last week.