President of Mitsubishi Motors Corp Tetsuro Aikawa announced his impending resignation in response to the publicity around the automaker’s fuel economy data manipulation. Both he and vice president Ryugo Nakao will step down on June 24, at which time Nissan will become the company’s biggest shareholder in an attempt to turn around the brand in the eyes of Japanese consumers.
Last month the company admitted to using improper fuel economy tests and altering data for four of its Japanese mini-cars to give the illusion of better fuel consumption rates. None of the cars sold overseas are said to be affected. Aikawa stated this week, “I must step down so that a fundamental reform can take place in the vehicle development department,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Nissan has announced it will take a 34 percent controlling stake in the company, an exchange totaling $2.2 billion. Mitsubishi chairman Osamu Masuko also announced he will not take compensation until a new management team is formed. Nissan executives are optimistic about their ability to improve the brand’s standing in Southeast Asian markets. They also hope to rejuvenate sales for the mini-cars produced in a joint venture between the two companies – and to make up for the 51 percent hit in mini-car sales in the few weeks since Mitsubishi admitted its wrongdoings. A panel of investigators is set to release their findings regarding the improper testing in July.
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