Japan: More Mitsubishi Cars Recalled

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Nando Times

More Mitsubishi cars recalled

By YURI KAGEYAMA, Associated Press

TOKYO (February 15, 2001 12:44 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Already scarred by a huge recall and the admission that it systematically hid driver complaints, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. says it will now recall more than 400,000 of the same vehicles, the result of "truly a shoddy setup," the company's president said Thursday.

In the latest recall, Mitsubishi Motors reported to the Japanese government five types of auto defects in a11 models on the domestic market, recalling 401,106 vehicles. The defects include faulty air bags, leaking fuel tanks and smoking turbines.

The $146 million worldwide recall of 1.3 million vehicles is another serious setback for the Japanese automaker, which has been trying to win back customer trust by working with a quality-control team from DaimlerChrysler AG. The German automaker purchased a third of Mitsubishi after the cover-up scandal surfaced last summer.

Mitsubishi Motors President and CEO Takashi Sonobe said recalls on an additional 950,000 vehicles will be announced in the United States soon. The U.S. recall is for loose parts on a joint in the front suspension that may cause the Mitsubishi Galant, Eclipse, Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger vehicles to stall.

The cars were recalled once last summer. In Japan, 232,514 sedans produced from 1992 to 2001 are being recalled for the second time for the same problem.

"It was truly a shoddy setup that deserves criticism," Sonobe said of having to recall the vehicles a second time.

Akira Okamoto, executive officer in charge of quality, said officials checking for defects the first time mistakenly assumed they only arose on the assembly line.

Mitsubishi Motors also recalled 4,452 Fuso AeroStar trucks for the second time for a weak, noisy turbine wing. In the first recall, Mitsubishi Motors found defective computer equipment that also caused turbine damage.

Sonobe took over as president after his predecessor resigned to take responsibility for the scandal, in which Mitsubishi admitted to covering up complaints for more than 20 years.

The cost of the recall will come on top of the $95 million it earmarked for last summer's recall of 620,000 vehicles. Mitsubishi Motors is forecasting a loss of $1.2 billion for the fiscal year ending next month.

Sonobe said the worldwide recall will likely balloon to more than 1.3 million, affecting cars manufactured in both Japan and Mitsubishi's U.S. plant in Illinois.

Two minor crashes linked to the loose-joint problem have been reported in Japan. The cars were damaged, but no one was injured. Owners are being notified of the problems by mail and will receive free repairs.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), February 15, 2001

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