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Mitsubishi eK kei car back on road after April mileagecheating scandal
<p><strong>Mitsubishi eK kei car back on road after April mileage-cheating scandal.</strong></p>

Japanese Automakers Predict Fiscal-2016 Sales Off 8%

The industry group&rsquo;s sales report links the projected sales decline in part to Mitsubishi&rsquo;s mileage-cheating scandal which surfaced in April and led to the automaker suspending production of 0.66L minicars for itself and Nissan.

TOKYO - The Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Assn., citing a delayed government tax hike and fallout from the Mitsubishi mileage-cheating scandal, revises its fiscal 2016 sales forecast downward to 4.85 million units, 8% below its original forecast.

In March, the Tokyo-based industry group predicted sales in Japan would grow to 5.26 million units.

In making the announcement, the association attributes the expected shortfall to the Japanese government’s decision to delay increasing the nation’s consumption tax from 8% to 10% until October 2019. The increase originally had been scheduled for April 1, 2017.

However, the industry group’s Oct. 6 sales report indicates another factor may be in play: Mitsubishi’s mileage-cheating scandal which surfaced in April and led to the automaker suspending production of 0.66L minicars for itself and Nissan.

Mitsubishi and Nissan jointly build the Mitsubishi eK Wagon and eK Space, and the Nissan Dayz and Dayz Roox at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima plant in Western Japan.

Between April and September, the automakers reported declines in minicar sales (excluding minitrucks and mini-commercial vehicles) 46% by Mitsubishi, 58% by Nissan, for a total of 50,793 vehicles, mostly the four models caught up in the mileage-misrepresentation scandal.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan’s leading business daily, reports the automakers resumed minicar production in late September.

Also reporting a sales decline in the segment was Suzuki, Japan’s leading minicar brand in fiscal 2015. Suzuki’s shortfall – down 13% year-on-year to 26,613 units – partly resulted from a mid-May disclosure it had used improper mileage-testing procedures for a reported 16 cars in its lineup. Unlike Mitsubishi, Suzuki did not falsify results.

Japan’s second- and third-ranked mini brands in fiscal 2015, Daihatsu and Honda, reported flat or slightly higher sales during the period including, in the case of Daihatsu, OEM cars built for Toyota, its major shareholder.

The Mitsubishi and Suzuki problems depressed the minicar segment 12% between April and September, pulling total demand down 1%, the industry association says. The group had projected 6.5% growth in fiscal 2016, including 9% in both minicars and trucks.

Minicars accounted for 25% of industrywide sales during the period, down from 28% in fiscal 2015. Including 0.66L commercial vehicles, which fell 4%, minicars’ market share fell from 36% to 33%.

In the standard-vehicle segment (1.0L and above), the association predicts fiscal-2016 sales of 3.16 million units, up 1%, including 2.73 million passenger cars and 414,000 CVs, up 1.5% and down 2%, respectively.

In its revised forecast,the association predicts sales of minicars and CVs will fall 7% to 1.69 million units. Minicar and minitruck sales peaked at 2.26 million in fiscal 2013 and accounted for 40% of demand.

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