Investigators from Japan’s Transport Ministry raided a factory belonging to Mitsubishi Motors in the Japanese city of Okazaki on Thursday. The raids came after the company admitted that employees manipulated fuel-efficiency test results in more than 600,000 of its popular mini cars.
The news was immediately felt on the stock market. By Friday morning, Tokyo time, Mitsubishi shares had plunged more than 30 percent, wiping out more than $2 billion in market value.
The higher fuel-efficiency ratings meant the cars, most of which were sold by Nissan, were eligible for government-backed rebates. Nissan discovered the test discrepancies, prompting Mitsubishi to admit that employees had been tampering with the test results and that the deception was “intentional.”
If Mitsubishi is found guilty of modifying test results, the company could be required to pay back the rebates customers received and may face hefty fines.
So far, the affected cars only appear to have been sold in Japan.
The news that Volkswagen may be required to fix or buy back as many as 600,000 vehicles involved in the “dieselgate” scandal in the U.S. and Canada may be contributing to Mitsubishi’s plummeting stocks. It took eight months for the German automaker and government officials to reach an agreement, which will likely include billions of dollars in fines.
An analyst from the Tokai Tokyo Research Center admitted that the markets have “become very sensitive to such kinds of news,” and that although the two scandals are distinct, the timing of Mitsubishi’s admission may not bode well for the company. “It may have a similar impact in terms of sales and the company’s reputation,” Seiji Sugiura explained.
This isn’t the first scandal to engulf Mitsubishi in recent years. In 2002, the company was accused of covering up a defect that eventually lead to the death of a pedestrian. The automaker was only now emerging from the scandal, in which it was forced to admit that it publicly blamed drivers for a problem it new was a safety defect.
Image credit: Flickr/Mitsubishi Photos