Tokyo / Bloomberg
Suzuki Motor Corp. said it used fuel-economy testing methods that weren’t compliant with Japan regulations on about 2.1 million vehicles sold locally. The automaker said it won’t need to revise the ratings, as proper testing showed earlier results were within an acceptable range of deviation.
Suzuki used a tunnel to test the fuel efficiency of its vehicles out of concern about wind at its Sagara proving grounds located on a hill near Japan’s southern coast, according to a statement on Wednesday. The carmaker said it reviewed all 16 of its models currently available for sale, and that the issues don’t apply to products sold overseas.
Chairman Osamu Suzuki apologized after Suzuki’s disclosure of improper testing prompted the company’s shares to tumble 9.4 percent, the biggest decline in more than seven years. Japan’s transport ministry had asked carmakers to conduct internal investigations after Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said it overstated the mileage ratings of four minicar models by as much as 15 percent. Mitsubishi Motors also is investigating improper testing of other models dating back to 1991.
Suzuki said it measured data related to components such as tires, brakes and transmissions, and combined those results with air resistance tests in the wind tunnel. Consumers haven’t been harmed because the fuel economy of Suzuki’s models were roughly consistent with previously stated ratings, Suzuki, 86, told reporters on Wednesday.
President Toshihiro Suzuki said the automaker will revamp the testing course and that the improper method was used starting around 2010.
About 22 percent of Suzuki’s 2.86 million worldwide vehicles sales were in Japan during the fiscal year ended in March, as the company has shifted its focus to expanding in India. Affiliate Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. last month reiterated that Suzuki will start production at its wholly owned factory in India’s western Gujarat state in January.
Suzuki has a market value of about $11.7 billion, and the stock is down 29 percent this year. With about $6.9 billion in cash and equivalents, Suzuki’s balance sheet as of March 31 was better positioned to weather any scandal compared with Mitsubishi Motors, which reported about $4 billion.
Mitsubishi Motors last week said it plans to sell a 34 percent controlling stake to Nissan Motor Co. for about $2.2 billion.
At about $17 billion, Maruti Suzuki has a higher market value than its majority owner. Maruti Suzuki’s shares pared declines of as much as 3.7 percent, their biggest intraday drop in six weeks, and were down 0.7 percent as of 1:59 p.m. in Mumbai trading after the briefing by Suzuki.