Certification of new Mitsubishi trucks halted

TOKYO, (May 13, 2004) — Japanese transportation authorities have ceased certification of new vehicles made by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck following the arrests of seven former Mitsubishi executives who were arrested last week for allegedly company covering up defects that caused wheels to come loose.

The decision prevents Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. — owned 65 per cent by DaimlerChrysler and 20 per cent by Mitsubishi Motors — from selling vehicles equipped with its newest wheel hubs until their safety is verified, according to news agencies.

Although there have been no reports of defects in the “F-type” hubs, the ministry decided to confirm their safety. The company admitted in March that a design defect had been responsible for more than 50 truck accidents since 1992 and recalled 112,000 trucks in Japan. In 2002, a woman was killed and her two sons injured by a flying wheel that came loose from a Fuso truck.

DaimlerChrysler is the parent company of Freightliner Trucks, Sterling Trucks, and Western Star Trucks in North America. Mitsubishi Fuso sells class 6 and 7 trucks in the U.S., as well.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors is talking to several investment funds about their possible participation in a rescue plan after main shareholder DaimlerChrysler AG pulled out last month, selling its shares back to the auto company this week.

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