MAKUHARI, Chiba Pref. — Scandal-tainted Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. will be able to weather a plunge in domestic sales with brisk overseas sales, in terms of volume, for the year ending next March, Fuso President Wilfried Porth said Tuesday.
The truck maker announced a 24 percent increase in sales overseas for the first half to 59,300 units, prompting the company to expect to exceed during this fiscal year its 100,000-unit overseas sales target by 2008.
The robust sales in every region abroad shows “that we have a strong customer base,” Porth said in an interview.
But in terms of profit, the strong overseas showing may not be enough to bring the firm into the black because the main products selling well overseas are inexpensive light-duty trucks, Porth said.
Mitsubishi Fuso’s domestic sales have been declining every month year-on-year since April, with sales in September showing a 48 percent decline. The firm has been embroiled in defect-coverup scandals, including those pertaining to accidents including two fatalities.
Porth said he believes the media coverage in Japan focused too much on the company’s past wrongdoings related to quality, noting, “I understand there are very emotional discussions in Japan over the past quality issues.”
He said there should be more business-oriented discussions because only focusing on one aspect will not really prompt the public to look into the background of the truck industry in general.
About being a foreigner heading a Japanese company, he said it does not make a difference as far as business is concerned.
But if he is to point to one thing, he said, “For me as a foreigner and somebody who came from outside Mitsubishi, it is easier for people to believe that I really am (an) advocate of something different from the past.”
After the defect coverups surfaced, Porth severely criticized past management for nurturing a corporate culture of concealment. He pledged to prevent a recurrence and introduced measures that included setting up an external advisory panel and reorganizing the research and development office.
He came from DaimlerChrysler AG in January 2003 when Mitsubishi Fuso was spun off from Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Mitsubishi Fuso became a fully consolidated subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler AG when the German automaker raised the share levels to 65 percent in April.
Although DaimlerChrysler posted a 470 million euro (63 billion yen) April-September loss from Mitsubishi Fuso stemming from recall problems, Porth maintained that Mitsubishi Fuso is a full-fledged member of the German automaker’s commercial vehicle division.
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