Prosecutors suspect foul play in tests on two types of diesel engines. The probe would make Mitsubishi the latest manufacturer in an ongoing set of scandals on emissions cheating.
German prosecutors on Tuesday launched raids on Mitsubishi's German subsidiary as well as several automotive suppliers across the country as part of an investigation into Mitsubishi's alleged use of devices designed to cheat on emissions tests for two types of engines.
Frankfurt authorities said they had opened a fraud investigation against executives at "an international car group, a subsidiary of an international car dealership and two international car suppliers."
Read more: Going Electric: A road trip through Germany
A total of 10 commercial properties in North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Lower Saxony and Bavaria were searched. Three of the properties raided belonged to automotive supplier Continental, which is listed as a witness in the case.
The investigation is focusing on Mitsubishi diesel vehicles with 1.6- and 2.2-liter engines that adhere to Germany's highest Euro 5 and Euro 6 ratings, for meeting certain environmental standards.
Prosecutors said in a statement that "there is a suspicion that the engines are equipped with a so-called shutdown device" that makes the emissions appear lower than they actually are.
The Japanese automobile manufacturer is also part of a business alliance with Renault and Nissan.
The raids are the latest instance in an ongoing set of scandals — dubbed Dieselgate — over emissions cheating. In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to installing software in 11 million diesel-fuelled vehicles to pass emissions tests. The devices allowed the vehicles to emit up to 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.
The probe is a first for Mitsubishi with regard to emissions cheating. However, in 2016, the carmaker admitted to publishing exaggerated mileage ratings for car models that it sold in Japan.
lc/ng (AFP, dpa, Reuters)