What began with Dieselgate and Volkswagen is now spreading to cover the entire auto industry. Dieselgate is the self-inflicted emissions scandal that Volkswagen created when it admitted it had cheated so its vehicles could pass tough U.S. air quality standards. On Tuesday, Mitsubishi said it has been lying on its fuel economy reports for 25 years and that it has ignored Japanese test mandates since 2001.
Now, French government investigators have raided the offices of the PSA Group as part of a broader investigation into industry emissions practices, while Daimler A.G. has begun an internal probe, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, of its certification practices. And the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are looking at whether models sold here meet U.S. fuel economy rules.
Auto industry testing and measurement practices are under heavy pressure that is only increasing as the seriousness of violations becomes more apparent. For example, the EPA has instructed Mitsubishi to provide more information on the vehicles the automaker sells here. A spokesman for the agency also indicated on Tuesday that Mitsu would be asked to do further testing.
In Japan, the Transport Ministry has order Mitsubishi to resubmit the findings of its investigation of improper testing methods by mid-May. The ministry labeled a report the automaker had submitted was insufficient.
Interestingly, improprieties at Mitsubishi and Volkswagen were discovered by outside parties. Nissan found significant discrepancies between fuel economy figures on 600,000 vehicles developed it by Mitsubishi for the Japanese market. Volkswagen, on the other hand, was found to have been cheating by a research group that had started out to find how VW achieved its amazing “clean diesel” results.
And, there are indications that the looks at Daimler, the PSA Group, VW and Mitsubishi, could just lead to a more general investigation of industry testing and reporting practices. For example, VW is facing probes in Germany, France, Italy, South Korea and India, as well as the United States. And, Mercedes, in addition to the request by CARB and the EPA, is also facing a suit that challenges its diesel emissions levels. Indeed, some industry stories have pointed out that many automakers are not meeting various emissions or testing standards, although none has been as egregiously blatant about it as Volkswagen.
Now VW is facing the worst crisis in its business history while Mitsubishi’s existence could be at stake. In VW’s case, Dieselgate has already cost executives their positions and there are ongoing investigations underway. Further, the automaker has decided to buy back as many as 500,000 four-cylinder diesel models in the U.S. and has set aside $18.2 billion to handle the costs. Mitsubishi’s chief operating officer and chief executive officer are likely facing the loss of their jobs, according to published reports today.
Automotive News reported on these issues today.