Germany conducts raids over suspected Mitsubishi diesel emission fraud

FRANKFURT: German prosecutors on Tuesday said they were searching business premises across the country as part of an investigation into suspected diesel emissions cheating involving Mitsubishi cars.

Frankfurt prosecutors said they had opened a fraud investigation against executives at “an international car group”, two international car suppliers and a car dealership.

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi is in a three-way alliance with Renault and Nissan.

A spokesman for car supplier Continental confirmed to AFP that three of its locations had been searched, adding that the firm was acting as “a witness” and fully cooperating with the probe.

Prosecutors said the probe was focussing on Mitsubishi diesel vehicles with 1.6- and 2.2-litre engines that have been given Germany’s highest Euro 5 and Euro 6 ratings depending on their adherence to environmental standards.

“There is a suspicion that the engines are equipped with a so-called shutdown device” that makes them appear less polluting in lab tests than they actually are, the prosecutors said in a statement.

Raids were taking place at 10 commercial sites across Germany including in the states of Hesse, Bavaria and Lower Saxony, the statement added.

The probe is the latest fallout from the so-called “dieselgate” scandal that erupted when Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to installing software in 11 million vehicles worldwide to dupe pollution tests.

The so-called defeat devices allowed the cars to spew up to 40 times more harmful nitrogen oxide than legally allowed.

The scandal has ensnared a string of other carmakers, but Mitsubishi had so far been avoided being dragged into the controversy.

The Japanese firm did however in 2016 admit to falsifying fuel-economy tests for years to make the cars seem more efficient than they were.