National

Clutch housing find poses more trouble for Mitsubishi Fuso

Government examiners searching a Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. factory in Kawasaki have found a broken clutch housing that apparently fell off a bus.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry on Thursday immediately ordered the truck and bus maker to investigate how the unreported clutch housing came to be there, government officials said.

The five ministry examiners also found 13 broken truck clutch housings and two broken metal casings for transmissions during its on-the-spot inspection the same day of the Mitsubishi Fuso plant, its first since the company was spun off from Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in January 2003, they said.

The examiners obtained photocopies of dealer reports on fractured clutch housings submitted earlier to the truck and bus maker, the officials said.

The ministry will check the consistency between the examiners’ findings and Mitsubishi Fuso’s earlier reports to the ministry concerning fractured clutch housings in its large vehicles, they said.

The ministry cracked down on the factory amid growing suspicions that the manufacturer may have hidden reports on defective clutch housings in its large vehicles, the officials said.

In the course of the day’s search, the examiners checked reports on the defects made by Mitsubishi Fuso’s dealers as well as documents on how the automaker responded to these reports.

They also measured the cracks in the recalled clutch housings, which have been stored in a warehouse in the factory, to verify the accuracy of a report submitted earlier by Mitsubishi Fuso to the ministry.

A former Mitsubishi Fuso official alleged to have been involved in hiding the defects used to belong to the product-monitoring department at the factory, which is the main plant of Mitsubishi Fuso.

The ministry hopes to identify the cause of the defects. Ii is also trying to determine if the company is hiding any more faults, the officials said.

The ministry has drafted an ordinance that will oblige operators of Mitsubishi Fuso trucks and buses to widen the scope of accidents required to be reported to the ministry.

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