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Mitsubishi Motors says domestic orders halved since mileage cheating scandal

Reuters Reuters 27/04/2016 By Naomi Tajitsu

Mitsubishi Motors Corp's President Tetsuro Aikawa and Managing Director Yutaka Tabata bow before a news conference in Tokyo© REUTERS/Thomas Peter Mitsubishi Motors Corp's President Tetsuro Aikawa and Managing Director Yutaka Tabata bow before a news conference in Tokyo Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T) said that domestic orders have halved since it revealed it cheated on mileage tests, intensifying concerns over whether it can survive considering its already chequered history of scandals.

Japan's sixth-largest automaker admitted this week that it used fuel economy testing methods that did not comply with Japanese regulations for 25 years, much longer than previously known.

It said it may approach its financial backers, which include other companies in the Mitsubishi group, for assistance if necessary, but that its financial position was currently strong and it saw no such need at the moment.

The scandal broke last week when it said it had manipulated test data for four domestic mini-vehicle models, including two it produced for Nissan Motor Co (7201.T). It has also said that more models may have used tests non-compliant with Japanese standards.

"Since we made the announcement on April 20, our daily domestic vehicle orders have halved," Chief Operating Officer Tetsuro Aikawa told reporters on Wednesday, referring both to minivehicles and regular vehicles.

The misconduct has revived memories of a scandal more than 15 years ago in which Mitsubishi Motors admitted systematically covering up customer complaints for more than two decades.

Several years later, it suffered another setback when its truck affiliate admitted to concealing information about potentially dangerous defects although it managed to secure a bailout that was partially funded by other Mitsubishi Group companies.

The company logo of Mitsubishi Motors is seen at it's headquarters in Tokyo© REUTERS/Thomas Peter The company logo of Mitsubishi Motors is seen at it's headquarters in Tokyo

Senior officials at firms in the Mitsubishi group say it would be difficult for them to help the car maker this time, if needed, as they face their own financial squeeze, as well as calls to put shareholder returns above ties with the former Mitsubishi business empire.

The automaker earlier said operating profit for the financial year just ended inched up 1.8 percent to 138.4 billion yen ($1.2 billion) while revenue climbed 4 percent.

It issued no earnings guidance for this financial year as it typically does when reporting annual results, given uncertainty over the fallout from a ballooning mileage cheating scandal.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu and Maki Shiraki; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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