TOKYO: Suzuki shares dived 15 percent Wednesday on reports that it may have used improper fuel-efficiency testing methods, as rival Japanese automaker Mitsubishi wrestles with a fuel-economy cheating scandal.
The Tokyo-listed firm plunged to 2,450 yen ($22.40) in afternoon trading as investors pressed the sell button on the small car maker, which sells almost three million vehicles annually.
Company chairman Osamu Suzuki would visit the transport ministry to discuss the issue, a company spokesman said, without elaborating.
He declined to comment on reports by public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News agency saying Suzuki was using a fuel-economy testing method that was different from one required by government regulators.
They did not give further details, but the Mainichi newspaper quoted unnamed company sources as saying that Suzuki’s testing did not result in false fuel-economy data.
“The company has to make a report on its testing methods at the transport ministry,” the spokesman said. “Chairman Osamu Suzuki will report on that today at the ministry.”
The 86-year-old executive, a descendant of the company’s founding family, is expected speak at a news briefing at 4 p.m. local time (0700 GMT) Wednesday.
The transport ministry has ordered Japan’s automakers to probe their compliance with government testing methods after Mitsubishi admitted last month it manipulated data to make its cars seem more fuel efficient than they were.
Mitsubishi is also expected to submit a report to the ministry on its testing later Wednesday.
Its president, Tetsuro Aikawa, plans to quit the crisis-hit company, Japan’s leading Nikkei business daily said Wednesday.
Last week, Nissan threw an unexpected lifeline to Mitsubishi by offering to buy 34 percent of its shares, in a deal that would give Nissan effective control over the smaller firm.
The scandal — reported to cover almost every model sold in Japan since the early 1990s — also includes mini-cars produced by Mitsubishi for Nissan as part of a joint venture.
It was Nissan that first uncovered problems with the fuel economy data, but Mitsubishi has said Nissan had no part in the cheating. AFP