61 Mitsubishi vehicles caught fire over five-year period: ministry

Sixty-one trucks, buses, minivans, sport utility vehicles and cars made by either Mitsubishi Motors Corp. or its Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. arm caught fire over a five-year period through March, the government said Tuesday.

The tally was collated on the basis of information reported by users of Mitsubishi vehicles to the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, as well as to its predecessor, the Transport Ministry.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus was spun off from Mitsubishi Motors as an affiliate in January 2003.

Complaints varied from fire breaking out in a vehicle’s engine compartment to leaked fuel igniting, according to a report compiled by the ministry.

One complaint involved an engine explosion in a Chariot Grandis minivan while it was traveling on an expressway in the summer of 1999.

Another concerned a Pajero SUV whose engine compartment caught fire in May 2000.

Other complaints include a Minicab van catching fire on ignition in January 2003 and a Mitsubishi Fuso truck that caught fire in the rear part of its cab last February.

Of the 61 fires described in the report, 20 occurred in fiscal 2001, with another 19 taking place the preceding year.

The ministry said that MMC and Mitsubishi Fuso accounted for three out of the 19 recall notices filed with the ministry by various automakers in connection with fires stemming from defective parts during the 10-year period to March 31.

Mazda Motor Corp., an affiliate of Ford Motor Co., also filed for three recalls, it said.

Scandal continues

SAGA (Kyodo) A truck made by scandal-tainted Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. caught fire Monday night on the Nagasaki Expressway in Saga Prefecture, burning its cargo compartment, police said.