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Mitsubishi Fuso covered up faulty parts data for 2 years
(Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, March 13, 2004)

The troubled Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. had covered up for two years data that strongly suggested defective metal parts caused wheels to fall off moving vehicles, the Mainichi has learned.

In a report the company recently submitted to its regulator, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry, over its decision to recall vehicles fitted with faulty hubs that fixed wheels to an axle, Mitsubishi officials disclosed for the first time the results of tests it carried out from March to June 2002.

Ministry and Mitsubishi sources said hubs were tested in the wake of an accident in which a 29-year-old mother of two was killed when she was struck by a 140-kilogram wheel that fell off a Mitsubishi vehicle in Yokohama in January that year. Her children, including a baby, were also injured in the tragedy.

The Tokyo-based company, which was a division of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (MMC) until January last year, studied some 480 hubs removed from its vehicles and reportedly found that about 140 of them, or 30 percent, had invisible cracks in the same area. Three of the tested hubs had cracks large enough to be seen.

At the time, MMC blamed improper maintenance of the vehicles as the cause of a large number of similar accidents. However, the tests showed that exactly the same kind of cracks were appearing in well-maintained hubs as in poorly maintained parts, suggesting that the design was fundamentally defective, the sources said.

Seventeen more similar accidents involving MMC large vehicles occurred in 16 months since the Yokohama accident. Ministry officials repeatedly asked MMC if the accidents were caused by a design defect but the automaker failed to disclose the data until this week.

Moreover, Mitsubishi Fuso also admitted in the report that it updated the troubled hub without testing the new design on real vehicles.

MMC/Mitsubishi Fuso has failed to offer an apology to the bereaved relatives of the woman killed in the Yokohama accident. Her mother filed a damaged suit to the Yokohama District Court against the automaker in March last year.

Full story

Mitsubishi Fuso US/Canada site

Also see: Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Expects Record Group Pretax Loss
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