Mitsubishi has announced another vehicle recall. Following much negative publicity regarding vehicle defect cover-ups in recent years, Mitsubishi is once again in the limelight because of problems with its vehicles. In the short term this is the last thing the embattled carmaker needs, but if it wants to restore its sullied reputation, and honest and proactive approach to vehicle safety is the right attitude to have.

In the latest recall, Mitsubishi Motors has admitted that the air conditioning system in three of its models can potentially cause a fire in the glove box. This recall is likely to affect 179,000 vehicles and has led to at least two injuries, according to the Associated Press. Additionally, the company has had to recall 95,000 Colt models built between 2002 and 2004 over problems with the ignition key.

This is not the first time that Mitsubishi has found itself in hot water over vehicle faults. In 2000, the company was found to have covered up defects in the cars for several years; a discovery that had a dramatic effect on its sales and left the company teetering at one stage on the brink of collapse. Indeed, only a bail-out by the parent Mitsubishi group has helped the motor division stay afloat.

Brand perception is becoming increasingly important in the auto market as the vehicles themselves become increasingly commoditized. As a result, consumers are increasingly making choices based on vehicle badges, rather than on precise technical specifications, and protecting brand image has become a growing priority for carmakers.

Therefore it is no surprise that Mitsubishi's financial performance has suffered so greatly on the back of its safety scandal. It may also explain why Ford has fought allegations of negligence over vehicle safety issues so fiercely for years.

It seems clear that Mitsubishi is being relatively open about problems with its vehicles, as it must know that the impact of even the smallest defect will be magnified. While this is a brave strategy, it is probably the right one. In essence, the company has been given an opportunity to show the public that it can take decisive and quick action to remedy any problems with its vehicles. It is this kind of decisive action which will start to rebuild trust in the vehicle manufacturer, and restore some lost pride in its brand name. It will however be a slow process.

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