Subaru’s Investigation Shows Inspectors Tampered with Fuel Economy Data [News]

[Photo: Subaru]

Subaru’s investigation into fuel economy tampering turns up altered data on 900 cars.

Last month, Subaru missed its deadline to report on fuel economy tampering at its Gunma plant in Japan. Now, the Japanese Transport Ministry has its answer: inspectors did in fact alter fuel economy data. According to the investigation, carried out by Japanese law firm Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu, inspectors altered fuel economy and emissions data for 900 cars at its Gunma and Yajima plants between December 2012 and November 2017. Subaru later released a statement mentioning their investigation into the matter in December 2017.

But that’s not all. Inspectors altered 900 vehicles’ data out of 7,000 inspections at those plants during that five-year period. Inspectors “inappropriately altered” the data so average fuel economy numbers fell in line with quality control standards. The company’s latest statement suggests Group Chiefs were engaged in tampering, but upper management was not aware of the situation. Subaru cited the closed nature of the departments responsible for handling fuel economy data, lack of training, and weakness in its audit functions as reasons for the nonconforming inspections.

Subaru fails to meet deadline to submit findings on alleged fuel economy cheating
News of fuel economy tampering comes shortly after Subaru revealed the all-new Forester in New York. [Photo: Subaru]

Data tampering may stretch back to 2002, according to employee statements

Employees say the tampering may extend back much farther than 2012. While data was altered within a five-year period, the test equipment did not contain data prior to 2012. However, inspectors may have tampered data as far back as 2002. However, the statement related to Subaru’s investigation stresses that the data alterations weren’t significant enough to really affect a larger group of vehicles:

“Subaru regards the alteration of emissions and fuel economy data found by the Investigation as inappropriate conduct and an extremely serious compliance problem. However, in the course of the Investigation, Subaru utilized data found in measurement equipment, etc. and objectively confirmed that the original measurement values were in certain range of values. Subaru used the worst value in such range to recalculate values necessary for quality control purposes, and re-verify whether such values meet the internal quality control standards.”

Subaru is not issuing a recall, instead referring to it as a conduct issue. The company apologized and promised these alterations won’t happen again. Inspectors and foremen made the decision to alter data, according to the investigation. As a result, Subaru’s reportedly focusing efforts at the shop floor level to keep this from happening again.

The Gunma plant manufactures the Levorg wagon, Impreza, Crosstrek, WRX and BRZ. The Yajima plant manufactures the Legacy, Outback, Impreza, Crosstrek and Forester. Stay tuned to for more updates on this story as it evolves.