Mitsubishi Fuso reveals 93 new defects

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Scandal-tainted Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. has reported another 93 previously undisclosed defects in its large vehicles, government officials said Tuesday.

A total of 21 accidents resulting in injuries have been reported due to some of the defects, but none resulting in death, according to officials at the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry.

Mitsubishi Fuso said it uncovered the latest defect scandal while going over company documents dating as far back as October 1992.

Some of the defects concern brake systems and problems that can lead to fuel tanks detaching, according to the ministry officials.

The figure includes 10 defects involving vehicles exported overseas.

Further details, including when the accidents took place or the specific vehicle models affected by the defects, were not immediately available.

The ministry officials said 41 of the 93 defects will probably require recalls, although the transport ministry is still analyzing whether they involve structural flaws in components.

The truck and bus maker submitted the report Friday, and transport minister Nobuteru Ishihara disclosed it during a regularly scheduled news conference Tuesday.

Mitsubishi Fuso, spun off from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in January 2003, said it still does not know how many vehicles are affected by the defects.

Mitsubishi Fuso spokesman Kyoichi Shimada said the company has yet to determine why these defects were not detected at the time of MMC’s 2000 recall scandals.

When it was revealed in 2000 that MMC had dealt secretly with customer complaints over vehicle defects for nearly 30 years, the automaker conducted investigations to find other defect coverups and reviewed past safety-related cases.

Hoping to regain some credibility, the two companies have pledged to review all past safety-related cases and publicize any more defect coverups.

They each set up in-house investigation teams in April. It was their investigations that found the latest coverup.

Mitsubishi Fuso, 65 percent owned by DaimlerChrysler AG, announced two major sets of recalls between March and May.

Recalls in March and April involved defective wheel hubs that caused a series of accidents. In one case, a 29-year-old woman was killed in Kanagawa Prefecture in January 2002 when a wheel came off a truck and hit her.

Mitsubishi Fuso issued the other major recall in May over defective clutch housings that have caused a number of accidents, including one fatality. A 39-year-old truck driver died after he lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a building in Yamaguchi Prefecture in October 2002.

Earlier this month, MMC admitted that it had hidden defects in its passenger cars and recreational vehicles by individually repairing them between 1993 and 1997.

Redress claim mulled

Compiled from staff, wire reports DaimlerChrysler AG may ask Mitsubishi Motors Corp. for compensation over the recall scandals involving Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp., MMC officials said Tuesday.

According to MMC officials, DaimlerChrysler notified the struggling automaker that MMC might have violated the contract concluded between the two automakers for the sale of Mitsubishi Fuso shares to the German-American automaker.

The officials said DaimlerChrysler did not clarify which clause MMC had contravened and how much the German-American automaker may claim.

In March, MMC sold roughly half of its 42 percent stake in Mitsubishi Fuso, which it spun off in 2003, to DaimlerChrysler. As a result, DaimlerChrysler now owns 65 percent of Mitsubishi Fuso.

DaimlerChrysler holds a 37 percent stake in MMC, although it recently decided to stop pumping money into the troubled automaker.

DaimlerChrysler has reportedly cited a “product quality problem” in considering seeking compensation from MMC — an apparent allusion to revelations vehicle defect coverups by the truck and bus maker.