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Mitsubishi Motors to recall 344,806 trucks, buses

TOKYO, March 26 Reuters reported that Mitsubishi Motors Corp said on Tuesday it would recall 344,806 trucks and buses in Japan due to a faulty starter switch, further damaging its reputation after a devastating quality-control scandal in 2000.

Japan's fourth-largest carmaker, 37 percent owned by DaimlerChrysler AG , said in a statement the recall would include Fuso Canter and Fighter Mignon trucks and Rosa buses manufactured between October 1994 and October 2001.

A Mitsubishi official also said around 50,000 vehicles in Europe and 16,000 vehicles in the United States were affected.

Measures to be taken overseas were still being decided.

The recall and the steps to be taken overseas would cost an estimated 2.58 billion yen ($19.35 million).

The company's reputation suffered badly in July 2000 when it announced a recall of nearly two million cars worldwide and admitted to hiding defects and customer complaints for more than two decades.

While that scandal mainly affected its passenger-car division, quality-control concerns have now surfaced in its truck division, a major source of profits.

The latest recall follows an offer made in January for free inspections on 124,000 large trucks after a wheel fell off a vehicle on a road near Tokyo, causing the death of a woman and injury to her two children.

Mitsubishi Motors also recalled 38,626 trucks in January to repair a faulty engine vacuum pump and fix problems with the anti-lock braking systems.

It said the latest recall comes after 18 reported cases of a problem with the starter switch, which was getting lodged in the starting position. In the worst cases the motor can overheat and burn, resulting in a fire, the carmaker said.

Mitsubishi Motors said there have been eight such fires.

Shares in Mitsubishi Motors closed up 4.42 percent at 307 yen, after the carmaker said President Takashi Sonobe would propose a top management change at a board meeting on March 27.

Germany's Manager magazine said in its online edition on Monday that Rolf Eckrodt, Mitsubishi's chief operating officer, would replace Sonobe as head of the firm on June 25.

Investors said expectations that Eckrodt would accelerate the turnaround programme at the troubled carmaker pushed the share price up.