Mitsubishi Fuso’s recall likely to include city buses

The imminent recall of large vehicles by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. is likely to include city buses excluded from its initial recall plan.

The move follows a series of accidents involving Mitsubishi Fuso vehicles, informed sources said Monday.

Subject to the recall will be some 8,000 of around 10,000 buses made by Mitsubishi Fuso, which was spun off from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in January 2003, they said.

In 2002, Mitsubishi Motors launched voluntary inspections of large vehicles. These vehicles had been involved in about 50 accidents involving the detachment of their wheels while in motion, including a January 2002 accident in Yokohama that killed a woman and injured her two sons.

At that time, Mitsubishi Fuso, owned 43 percent by DaimlerChrysler AG, said the vehicles had no structural defects and that the accidents had resulted from improper maintenance by users.

The company has nonetheless decided to recall trucks, sightseeing buses and other big vehicles for inspection and replacement of the same hubs used in vehicles that caused the accidents.

City buses were initially excluded from the inspection plan, with Mitsubishi Fuso having reportedly told the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry that these vehicles cover short-distance routes and suffer limited pressure on their hubs.

Hubs connect tires to axles.

Mitsubishi Fuso recently told the ministry it will recall some 76,000 vehicles that were subjected to the voluntary inspection, as well as 37,000 outside the inspection.

Federation warning

The Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) said Monday it will punish Mitsubishi Motors Corp. if any illegal deeds are confirmed in connection with an accident-related recall of large vehicles by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp.

“It’s extremely regrettable” that wheels came off big MMC vehicles while they were in motion, Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of Japan’s most powerful business lobby, told a news conference.

One accident involving a tractor killed a woman. At the time, MMC said the vehicles had no structural defects and the accidents resulted from improper maintenance by users.

Following the fatal accident, MMC launched a voluntary inspection of trucks and other big vehicles having the same wheel hubs as those involved in the accidents.

Mitsubishi Fuso was created in January 2003, with MMC spinning off its commercial vehicle division.

Nippon Keidanren, if necessary, will punish MMC instead of Mitsubishi Fuso, which is not a member of the federation, because the accidents were caused by vehicles manufactured by MMC, according to Okuda, chairman of Toyota Motor Corp.

Okuda said Nippon Keidanren will receive a report from MMC on the issue before deciding whether to take punitive action such as restrictions on the automaker’s activities as a member.