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Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
Mitsubishi extends recall
Mitsubishi Galant
The Mitsubishi Galant: May suffer fuel tank leaks
Motorists outside Japan are to be included in Mitsubishi's global recall campaign which will see 900,000 cars inspected for safety flaws.

Up to 2,000 registered Mitsubishi cars in the UK are to be examined for fuel leaks after the company admitted that foreign cars were affected by a safety scandal in which complaints were stashed in secret files.

The UK arm of Mitsubishi, Japan's fourth largest carmaker, is to contact owners of Galant sedans sold between March 1994 and August 1995, to check for faulty welding around the petrol tank.

Mitsubishi admitted that an unknown number of Lancer EVO sports hatchbacks, imported privately by motorists, may also be affected by flaws, and is advising safety checks on the IV and V models.

Unrecorded sales

"We have no idea how many of these cars there are in Britain because they were bought on the grey market," said a spokesman for Mitsubishi in the UK, which sold 22,000 vehicles last year

The spokesman stressed that the faults were not know to have caused any accidents in Europe.

"These cars are four or five years old, and if there were serious problems they would have emerged by now," he said.

The announcement follows Mitsubishi's admission in July that middle-ranking staff, including one manager now on the board, hid customer complaints in a secret file to avoid the risk of ordering a recall.

Worse than feared

The company originally considered that only cars sold on the home market were at risk, and recalled 692,000 cars and trucks.

But, following an internal investigation, Mitsubishi admitted on Wednesday that 200,000 foreign vehicles, made in the same factory as Japanese vehicles but on different production lines, also need to be inspected.

A further 88,000 Japanese cars were also recalled.

The company's president Katsuhiko Kawasoe said in Japan that the internal probe had revealed a "truly regrettable state of affairs" .

"That state of affairs is the result of a lack of respect for rules and regulations on the part of company officers and employees involved," he said.

Unnecessary delay

But observers condemned the delay in identifying the problem.

"Public distrust is spreading towards an automaker that put driver safety in the back seat," the Yomiuri national newspaper said.

Shares in Mitsubishi Motors fell 31 yen, or 7.2%, to 398 yen in Tokyo on Wednesday. The shares have slumped 20% from a mid-July high 497 yen.

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