Photo/IllutrationToshihiro Suzuki, president of Suzuki Motor Corp., addresses a news conference in Tokyo on Sept. 26. (Shinichi Iizuka)

Backtracking on its earlier denial, Suzuki Motor Corp. on Sept. 26 disclosed that it falsified exhaust emission and fuel economy test data in more than 2,700 vehicles awaiting shipment.

Only a month earlier, the carmaker maintained that it had “never deliberately altered such figures.”

The revelation concerns test figures recorded during the final inspection process after finished vehicles rolled off assembly lines.

Toshihiro Suzuki, president of Suzuki, called the latest announcement an “extremely regrettable” situation during a news conference in Tokyo.

The company is based in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Suzuki said the inspection process was “clearly insufficient” but that there were no plans to recall the vehicles.

Suzuki said tampered data was detected in at least 2,737 vehicles. Random inspections are conducted on one in every 100 finished units on the assembly line.

In August, the company announced that it erred in processing dubious test data as effective, although the figures were measured under inappropriate test conditions.

However, the carmaker insisted that an analysis of test results over the past year did not turn up any doctored data.

The latest discovery came after the transport ministry pointed out suspected falsification during an on-site inspection it carried out recently. That prompted the automaker to examine the veracity of data on 18,733 vehicles tested at three factories in the prefecture dating back to May 2009.

The investigation turned up data irregularities in 2,737 units, or 14.6 percent of the total.

Two employees involved in the final inspection process admitted to having altered measurement figures, the company said.

Suzuki said the automaker intends to appoint outside lawyers to look into why they tampered with the figures and assess how many vehicles were affected.

Suzuki cited an increased workload due to a lack of staff as a possible reason.

He said one of the inspectors told superiors that the team was stretched too thin to make fresh measurements even though they realized that their checks were not thorough.

The carmaker initially said the number of vehicles tested under inappropriate conditions was 6,401.

But the figure was updated to 6,883.

The same day, Nissan Motor Co. submitted a report to the ministry on its in-house investigation into errors in vehicle test data.

The company revealed that altered data was found in random checks, in addition to those on gas emissions and fuel economy.

According to an outside lawyer appointed by Nissan, the problem affected at least 253 vehicles at four factories in Japan.

In some cases, the company bypassed a check of a brake fluid level warning indicator and stated that the volume level of an alarm met in-house standards when it didn't.

Nissan maintained that the vehicles met government-set safety standards.