The truck company spun off from Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. on Monday reportedly said it was recalling 450,000 trucks and buses for defects it had failed to announce four years ago when a defect cover-up scandal surfaced.
The Associated Press (AP ) noted that, earlier on Monday, police raided the home of Katsuhiko Kawasoe, the former president of Mitsubishi Motors, who was arrested last week on suspicion of hiding vehicle defects after promising to come clean in the earlier scandal.
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp., 65%-owned by DaimlerChrysler , has announced recalls of thousands of vehicles this year after acknowledging hub and clutch defects suspected in two fatal accidents, AP said, adding that the latest list of 47 recalls, announced by chief executive Wilfried Porth, dates back to models produced as far back as 1983, and is linked to 13 accidents resulting in injury, 26 accidents resulting in property damage and 74 fires in vehicles.
Some exported vehicles were probably affected by the defects, but the models, numbers and other details have not yet been determined and it is unclear whether recalls will be needed, Porth reportedly said.
AP said the defects disclosed on Monday span a wide range, including brakes, hub bearings, oil hoses and emergency doors – in 2000, the company picked only four defects to report, partly because of a corporate climate in which employees did not speak up about suspected defects, Porth reportedly said.
Porth told the Associated Press at Tokyo company headquarters that meeting minutes show that officials intentionally hid the clutch defects despite knowing they could cause serious accidents.
“This is unacceptable,” Porth reportedly said, adding that he was awaiting the rulings in the upcoming trials of Mitsubishi officials to get to the bottom of the scandal.
“I would like first to apologise to our customers and the general public for the serious wrongdoings of our company in the past,” Porth said, according to AP.
Among the 13 possibly linked accidents resulting in injury, one in 1995 was fatal – the driver of a Mitsubishi van veered into the wrong lane in a tunnel when a tyre burst and the van crashed into an oncoming truck, killing the driver in that truck, the report said, though company officials reportedly said police and company investigations have shown that speeding was the cause of the accident and not the defect. The other reported injuries were less serious, such as broken bones and burns, AP added.
According to the news agency, Porth said on Monday that DaimlerChrysler remains committed to the truck company and has sent 10 experts to improve quality control and fix its operations.
He reportedly said it was too early to estimate the cost of the recall or its impact on the company’s financial results, but acknowledged the damage would be “significant.”
Porth told AP Monday’s announcement was comprehensive in presenting “a clear picture” and that more recalls of concealed defects weren’t likely.
“We will establish a company where the customer comes first,” he said, according to the Associated Press.