National

Recent vehicle fires not linked to structural defects: MMC

Fires that broke out from four Mitsubishi Motors Corp. vehicles in separate incidents over the weekend are probably not linked to structural defects, the automaker said Wednesday.

The vehicles involved in two of the incidents — a Pajero sport utility vehicle that caught fire Saturday on an expressway in Saitama Prefecture and a Chariot Grandis minivan that caught fire in the same prefecture the following day — had been repaired by the automaker in line with past recalls.

The 1991 Pajero was recalled in 1996 and the 2001 model Chariot Grandis was recalled last year, both for defective front brakes.

MMC said it will further examine the two vehicles, but added that there seems to be no direct link between the past defects and the fires.

MMC officials said their inspection of a 1990 Delica wagon that caught fire Saturday in Kagawa Prefecture showed the incident was unrelated to any of the 30 previously undisclosed auto defects it revealed earlier this month. This model has never been subject to a recall, and it is hard to conclude that the fire was caused by any structural defects, they added.

Another Delica wagon, manufactured in 1998, caught fire at a convenience store parking lot in Nara Prefecture on Sunday. As in the Kagawa case, the model has never been recalled and is not affected by any of the newly announced defects, MMC said, adding that it has yet to determine the cause of the fire.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. said separately Wednesday that a fire that broke out from one of its trucks in a parking area along an expressway in Nagano Prefecture on June 15 may have been caused by a defective rear hub bearing, which is subject to one of the 40 recalls planned by the company.

MMC also said it confirmed that another five injuries had been caused when the tailgates of its Libero slammed shut and hit people in the head. On June 23, the automaker said there had been 11 such injuries.

Two of the newly discovered cases occurred last week, it said.

MMC formally filed eight recalls earlier in the day covering 10 models, including the Sigma sedan and the Pajero SUV. A total 12,501 vehicles will be subject to these recalls. No injuries have so far been reported from the eight defects, company officials said.

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