EPA Requests Mitsubishi to Re-Examine Its US-Bound Vehicles

With the fumes of Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal still fresh in our nostrils, another somewhat similar debacle has just erupted, and this time, it involves the already struggling Japanese brand Mitsubishi.
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 1 photo
Photo: Mitsubishi
If the Germans at Volkswagen installed defeat devices to fool testers into believing their diesel cars emitted less dangerous particles, Mitsubishi came up with a different method of cheating, even though it was just as deliberate. In order to understand it, we have to be acquainted with the "coasting test" that's part of the procedure to determine a vehicle's fuel consumption.

Since the readings are taken in a lab, things such as aerodynamics or mechanical friction of the powertrain can't be factored in, even though they are crucial to a car's fuel efficiency. So, with the alternative being to ignore them completely, the automakers decided to accelerate a car to 80 mph (130 km/h), and then allow it to decelerate on its own. This is called the "coasting test." The data collected is then used to program the dynamometers on which the actual mileage test will be conducted.

Mitsubishi thought it was clever to take this data from a "fuel-economy grade" version of its eK Wagon (which was tuned to deliver maximum mileage) and apply it to three other models of the car, including four-wheel drive or turbo ones. The final test results were obviously corrupted, even though nobody can tell exactly by how much.

Another thing that's still unclear is whether this technique was used on other models the Japanese company builds, which said that it would look into the problem and release its findings later this week. In the meantime, though, the EPA isn't lying idle and has asked Mitsubishi to supply the agency with more information regarding the models it sells in the US (those would be the Outlander Sport, the Outlander, the Lancer, and the Mirage, plus the I-MIEV electric vehicle).

Automotive News says that the EPA has also instructed Mitsubishi to perform additional coast down tests for the vehicles it intends to sell in the North American market. Whatever the case, Mitsubishi needs to sort things out quickly, because it's not the kind of company that can easily go over a major hiccup such as this. It's not Volkswagen. With the share value dropping by 50 percent already, if more models are found to be sporting wrong consumption figures, Mitsubishi could be digging itself a grave no miracle will pull it out of. And even though the brand has been going downhill for a while, it's always sad to see a brand go. Especially one that built the Lancer Evo.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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