Are we witnessing the death of Mitsubishi?
The last couple of automotive scandals have had major implications for the automakers that perpetuated them, but these are automotive giants like VW and GM, which can sustain heavy damage before collapsing. On the other hand, Mitsubishi has been in a steady state of free fall since the 2000s where it suffered fallout from another scandal. The brand is hardly relevant in the US and it's even been falling steeply in its home country of Japan. Then tragedy struck.
Last week, Mitsubishi announced that it had fudged the fuel economy numbers on four micro car models for a total of 625,000 cars. Now, Mitsubishi has lost billions of dollars in value with stock prices falling by nearly 50%. Things at the Japanese automaker seemed like they couldn’t get any worse…until they did when Mitsubishi announced that it has been lying about fuel economy numbers since 1991. This revelation will deeply widen the scope of this scandal, potentially by millions of vehicles. Right now, Mitsubishi sells less than 100,000 cars per year, but in the past this number was up to five times higher. Mitsubishi’s president, Tetsuro Aikawa told news conference attendees, “All I can do is apologize.”
At least the Japanese authorities are working with the automaker to do something better: find out the exact scope of the scandal. In order to do so, every model is being examined to see if the engines get the gas mileage that Mitsubishi says they do. According to Aikawa, the company isn’t sure who pulled the trigger on the decision to cheat and even goes as far as to say that it may not have been aware that it was breaking any rules. However, the fact that the scandal extends so far back, combined with the safety scandal of the 2000s, implies that a culture of blatant cheating exists at Mitsubishi. Hopefully it can be stamped out before it's too late.