mitsubishi-pajero-facelift-malaysia-cropped-18

It appears that Mitsubishi’s problems run deeper than its recent fuel economy manipulation scandal, as an investigation into its practices found a corporate culture that prevented workers from pushing back against demands of the management, as well as infighting between departments, according to Automotive News.

A panel of external experts appointed by the company to look into its mileage testing practices revealed a systemic failure from within, which meant that blame could not be pinned onto any one department. The investigators pinpointed a number of factors, including a weak sense of the law, lack of unity between rank-and-file and management and refusal to admit that ambitious fuel consumption targets could not be met.

“The problem is not only with the testing, certification, or the development department,” said one of the investigators, Yoshiro Sakata, at a briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday. “It’s a collective failure of Mitsubishi Motors as a whole, starting from the management.”

Mitsubishi’s leadership has been put under the spotlight as a result of these findings, at a time when the company is aiming regain lost consumer trust after it disclosed that it manipulated fuel consumption figures and falsified test data. The company, which restarted production of its kei cars – where the false claims originated – after a two-month suspension, has seen two top executives step down and was rescued by Nissan, which is acquiring a 34% stake.

The Mitsubishi eK Wagon indicted in the scandal, along with the Nissan Dayz Roox supplied by Mitsubishi

Nissan is sending former executive Mitsuhiko Yamashita to Mitsubishi as part of the rescue, in an attempt to revamp its research and development division and prevent such wrongdoing from happening again. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is betting on damage from the scandal to be able to be contained within Japan, and hopes that an alliance with Mitsubishi can help it expand its South East Asian business.

Recommendations by the investigation panel listed in a handout included making Mitsubishi’s vehicle certification department truly independent from R&D to prevent a recurrence of such a scandal, as well as revamping the development process, restructuring the organisation, conduct more transparent personnel appointment and create a better understanding of laws.

Yamashita said at the briefing that Mitsubishi is considering a reduction in the number of management layers to improve communication. He also claimed that he will personally participate in discussions between executives and engineers in the future.

“I take the panel’s recommendation seriously,” said Mitsubishi chairman Osamu Masuko in a statement. “The efforts we’ve been making since I took over in 2005 haven’t been enough.”