The chairman of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. resigned on Friday after a spate of recalls over defective wheels, one of which flew off a truck and killed a pedestrian.


According to Associated Press (AP), Takashi Usami’s departure came as police investigate the company for allegedly covering up reported defects.


AP noted that, in 2002, a wheel came off a Mitsubishi truck and struck and killed a woman and injured her two sons as they walked along a footpath in the city of Yokohama, west of Tokyo – investigators found that the hub linking the axle to the tyre was broken.


About 50 accidents of wheels coming loose from heavy-duty trucks have been reported, AP said, citing Mitsubishi.


“I would like to pray for the soul of the victim who died in the accident and offer my condolences to the family,” Usami reportedly said in a statement, adding: “It is my wish that Mitsubishi Fuso will win back consumer confidence and make a fresh beginning.”


No replacement for Usami has yet been chosen, the company told AP.


Associated Press said that, on Thursday, Mitsubishi Fuso – 43% owned by DaimlerChrysler and 42% by Mitsubishi Motors – announced an additional recall of 21,000 vehicles for possible rear wheel defects in trucks and buses produced from 1989 to 1992.


The announcement reportedly followed the recall of 220,000 trucks last month for defects that sometimes caused the front wheel to drop off – the recall also affected a limited number of trucks sold overseas, though the company has not released further details.


AP said that the company apologised in a statement that more than a decade had passed from the first reported rear wheel problem to the recall – although 65 problems have been reported, the rear wheels do not drop off the truck, and no accidents were reported, it said.


The recalls began following a police raid of Mitsubishi Fuso offices in October, Associated Press added.