Mitsubishi Fuso trucks blocked from Asian market

TOKYO, (Sept. 13, 2004) — Japanese Ministry of Transport officials are preventing Mitsubishi Fuso Truck & Bus Corp. from introducing any new truck models into the Asian market.

The company has not been able to sell new trucks since authorities imposed tighter screening rules after Mitsubishi Fuso admitted to covering up truck defects that have since been blamed on several injuries and fatalities.

Mitsubishi Fuso — owned 65 per cent by DaimlerChrysler and 20 per cent by Mitsubishi Motors — 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.

Three top executives — including Takashi Usami, former chairman of Mitsubishi Fuso & Bus Corp. — have been charged with falsifying a report made to the Transport Ministry in February 2002 to conceal design flaws in wheel hubs.

Without the sale of the new trucks — which are designed to comply with tighter diesel emissions rules that took effect this month — the company risks losing market share to its rivals. Since vehicles that do not comply with the new rules can no longer be sold, sales could be seriously hurt if the inspections of its new models are held up for a long time, the company told Japanese news media.

DaimlerChrysler has spent about $1.26 billion last year for its controlling stake in Mitsubishi Fuso. Daimler acquired a 43 per cent stake at that time and another 22 per cent earlier this year.

— from Dow Jones Newswire

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