Suzuki Minicar Sales Slump on Improper Fuel Economy Testing

  • Executives may be asked to return some compensation: chairman
  • Models exceed fuel consumption ratings when tested properly

Suzuki Motor Corp.’s minicars sales in Japan were hit by the company’s admission to using improper fuel economy testing methods, falling 18 percent in May.

Dealers heard both encouragement and criticism from customers after Suzuki said May 18 that it didn’t use a test method required by Japanese law, Chairman Osamu Suzuki told reporters Tuesday at a press conference in Tokyo. The company will consider asking executives to return some compensation as a result of the impropriety affecting 14 Suzuki models and 12 vehicles supplied to other manufacturers, he said.

Suzuki has tested all 26 models properly and the vehicles exceeded the fuel consumption ratings used in marketing catalogs, according to a company statement. The automaker cited the 2008 global financial crisis and the increasing workload to develop new models and engines as reasons it didn’t invest enough in infrastructure or allocate a sufficient number of employees to conduct proper testing.

Japan’s transport ministry ordered domestic automakers to investigate and self-report their fuel economy testing methods after Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it had overstated the mileage ratings of four minicar models by as much as 15 percent and used unlawful test methods on other vehicles dating back to 1991. Nissan Motor Co. has since signed an agreement to buy a 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors for about $2.16 billion.

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