Japan Orders Probe of Diesel Car Emissions After VW Scandal

  • Japan considers changing method to test diesel engines
  • Automakers asked to submit probe reports by end of this week

Japan’s transport ministry has ordered carmakers to investigate whether their diesel vehicles meet the country’s emission norms after Volkswagen AG’s admitted to rigging some cars to cheat on U.S. tests.

The ministry has asked carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp., Mazda Motor Corp. and Volkswagen to submit reports of their probes by the end of this week, Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. The government is considering changing the method it uses to test diesel engines, Ohta said, without being more specific.

Japan joins South Korea, France and the U.K. among countries investigating compliance by carmakers after Volkswagen’s revelation that it used software that obfuscates how much its diesel-engine cars pollute. It led to the carmaker’s former Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn stepping down and the company’s market value plunging 27 billion euros ($30.4 billion).

The German automaker doesn’t sell diesel cars through its official dealer networks in Japan, but individual buyers have imported about 230 Volkswagen and Audi cars since 2008, according to Ohta. The ministry is checking whether these vehicles need to be recalled and fixed.

Volkswagen, the best-selling foreign brand in Japan last year, is working with authorities and is monitoring the impact on its brand image and sales, Hiromu Hatanaka, a Tokyo-based spokesman of the company, said by phone.

Mazda, the carmaker that sells the most diesel cars in Japan, said every gasoline and diesel engine it makes fully comply with the regulations of the countries in which they are sold, and it “never uses illegal software or defeat devices,” according to a company statement Tuesday.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it has received the order from the ministry and will submit its report as asked. BMW does not “manipulate or rig” any emission tests, and meets legal and testing requirements in each country, it said in an e-mailed response. Toyota and Nissan didn’t immediately respond to e-mails and phone calls seeking comment.

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