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Recalls by Troubled Japanese Truckmaker Top 2.64 Million Since March Last Year

TOKYO September 27, 2005; Hiroko Tabuchi writing for the AP reported that defective vehicles recalled by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp., a Japanese truckmaker embroiled in a massive cover-up scandal, have topped 2.64 million since March last year -- affecting 68 percent of Mitsubishi trucks and buses on the road in Japan.

Mitsubishi Fuso, 85 percent owned by Germany's DaimlerChrysler AG, announced five new recalls Monday covering some 120,000 middle and lightweight trucks, the latest in a series of 98 recall reports filed since last year.

The overall figures include some vehicles recalled up to eight times for defects such as faulty tail pipes, or wiring that can short a fuse or cause the vehicle to stop, a company spokesman said Tuesday on condition of anonymity, citing regulations.

When taking account of vehicles that were recalled more than once, the number of vehicles recalled totaled 890,000, or 68 percent of the 1.31 million Mitsubishi Fuso vehicles in use in Japan, he said.

Mitsubishi Fuso has been embroiled in a defect cover-up scandal that first surfaced in 2000. At that time, the company, which was still part of Mitsubishi Motors Corp., said it had systematically hid defects for more than 20 years to avoid recalls.

Those defects are suspected of being linked to two fatal accidents in 2002. In one accident, a tire rolled off a truck and crushed a pedestrian. In the other accident, a truck crashed after its brakes failed and killed the driver.

"It's now become clear that the quality issues stemmed from an overconfidence in our technology, problems in the corporate culture and insufficient measures to ensure the quality and safety of our products," Chief Executive Harald Boelstler said in a statement. "We express our heartfelt apologies for the concern and inconvenience caused to all our customers."

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Fuso said it hopes to complete 90 percent of all recall repairs by next March, and that repair costs would reach 149 billion yen ($1.3 billion). It could not immediately provide information on recalls covering trucks and buses sold overseas.