Japan admits flaw in vehicle inspection system

A draft report released by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism last week, acknowledged a flaw in the country’s national inspection system for vehicles. The report said that “the government has conducted no particular checks of its own regarding data provided by automakers,” as the relationship was based on trust. The review was conducted following admission by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in April that it had manipulated mileage test data for at least four mini-vehicle models, overstating their fuel efficiency, over the past three years. In May, Suzuki Motor Corp. admitted as well using the wrong methods to test the fuel economy of its cars in Japan.

The draft report describes possible reforms to the current inspection system for issuing vehicle model codes. The ministry said it also will consider implementing a new method for representing fuel economy data so that it reflects various driving conditions, including weather and road surface.

The report also proposes that the ministry authorise national inspectors to inspect the automakers’ fuel efficiency testing, without prior notice.

In the event of wrongdoing, punitive measures would be imposed on automakers, including public announcements and subsequent rejection of the automaker’s application for model codes. Ongoing national inspections of other vehicles by a manufacturer that committed the wrongdoing could also be suspended. Should these proposed measures be approved, automakers could face delays in getting their vehicle certification.

The ministry said it plans to finalise the draft report this summer, after which, the relevant laws would have to be revised to implement the changes.