Mitsubishi Motors on Wednesday said it found more cases of defect cover-ups dating back 11 years in another blow to its brand, still tainted by a devastating recall scandal four years ago.
According to Reuters, Japan’s fourth-largest carmaker said it found about 160,000 cars spanning 17 models that may need to be recalled after looking into past practices of repairing safety-related defects secretly without issuing a formal recall as required by law.
The news agency noted that, in 2000, Mitsubishi Motors suffered the biggest setback in its history when its decades-old practice of systematically hiding customer complaints came to light, forcing it to recall two million vehicles worldwide.
“I really believe this is the last chance to right the wrongs of the past,” CEO Yoichiro Okazaki reportedly told a hastily called news conference in which reporters grilled him for more than two hours.
“I realize that our sales in June, July and beyond will probably be hurt, and we’re trying to figure out how to improve our performance,” Okazaki, who took his post in April, added, according to the report.
He also reportedly said that he hoped that by “coming clean” as it did on Wednesday, Mitsubishi will win back the trust of its 3.6 million domestic customers.
But data on Tuesday showed that domestic sales at Mitsubishi had plunged 56% in May, Reuters said.
Okazaki reportedly said Mitsubishi has factored in a negative impact of around $180 million to its profits from an expected decline in sales for the current business year to next March.
In the latest case, Reuters reported, Mitsubishi said it found 92 instances of cover-ups after looking into reports dating back beyond April 1998. Reports before that date had not been investigated at the time of Mitsubishi’s recall of two million vehicles worldwide when the previous scandal surfaced four years ago, it reportedly said.
“MMC had told the authorities in 2000 that there could be cases of cover-ups dating before 1998, but no one took the initiative to look into it,” Mitsuo Hashimoto, who leads Mitsubishi’s new team on quality checks, told Reuters, adding: “That was a big mistake.”
None of the faulty vehicles, which included a few hundred police cars, had been involved in an accident, Mitsubishi said, according to the report.
Including another 60,000 cars with defects that do not require a formal recall, Mitsubishi estimated the total cost of the repairs to be around $US23 million, Reuters added.