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Mitsubishi recalls 676,741 minivehicles

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TOKYO, Aug 1 Reuters reported that Mitsubishi Motors Corp, Japan's fourth-biggest automaker, said on Thursday it would recall 676,741 Minica and Minica Toppo minivehicles in Japan to deal with a potentially defective battery box.

The scale of the recall is another embarrassment for the restructuring automaker, which is still working to overcome an major customer complaints scandal two years ago that resulted in the recall of almost two million vehicles.

The cost of the new recall is estimated at six billion yen ($50.09 million), the company said.

"No matter how minor the repairs will be, that's sapping resources that are better spent elsewhere," said auto analyst Kurt Sanger at ING.

The recall also resulted in Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport ordering Mitsubishi to improve its recall process.

"Mitsubishi's survey of the problem didn't go as smoothly as it could have done and it may have been possible for them to issue the recall six months earlier than they have," a ministry official said.

Another 301 of the 660cc minivehicles were exported to islands in the Caribbean, and the automaker said it was still considering what steps to take about them.

Mitsubishi, 37.3 percent owned by DaimlerChrysler AG, said rainwater could get into the battery box and cause fluid from the battery to splash onto the brake pipe and damage it. In the worst case, brake fluid could then leak, reducing the vehicle's braking ability. The cars were built between 1993 and 1998.

The company said it knew of no accidents due to problem.