Mitsubishi actually began all the way back in 1870 as a shipbuilding company that eventually invested in coal mining and manufacturing. Although they produced their first vehicle in 1917, only 22 were ever manufactured and true production did not begin until 1931 when the shipbuilding and aircraft divisions of Mitsubishi merged. It wasn’t until after World War II, however, that Mitsubishi really began mass development of its automotive department. In 1970, the car production portion of the company split off to create Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
In order to sell vehicles in the United States, the automaker sold 15% of their company to Chrysler in 1971, however, they did not sell vehicles under the brand name Mitsubishi until 1982. Their company succeeded in the late ‘80s, but has struggled since to remain relevant and trusted, especially since their massive coverup scandal in the early 2000s. The company currently partners with 11 countries and regions around the world and has 51 consolidated subsidiaries under its brand. Their brand is particularly focused on electric car technology. Mitsubishi offers a range of sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs along with one current truck model.
Mitsubishi Defects and Recalls
This section by no means represents a comprehensive list of manufacturing and operating malfunctions, and it is advisable to check for complete information on any recalls that may apply to your vehicle in order to quickly and safely address them. The following information, however, compiles some of the current common issues that Mitsubishi owners may experience.
Fuel Economy Tests
In April of 2016, Mitsubishi was involved in a massive scandal involving falsified fuel economy of its Japanese cars. They revealed that they had used outdated fuel consumption tests for the past 25 years. Eight of their models had an average of 4.2% lower fuel economy than what was advertised. Many of the affected models were “minicars” which are specifically marketed for their tiny engine and good gas mileage. As a result, the president of the company resigned and Mitsubishi’s profits dropped $2 billion in the summer quarter, the company’s first loss in six years. The transportation ministry in Japan is conducting an ongoing investigation.
Rear Hatch Failure
In December of 2016, Mitsubishi issued a recall for 50,000 SUVs due to a possible safety issue with the rear hatch, which may fall on people. The recall affects the Outlander Sport models from 2011, 2012, and 2016. The automaker says that the tube surrounding the lift gate supports may corrode from extended exposure to road salt, causing them to degrade and allow the gas holding up the latch to leak out. Although Mitsubishi has not reported any injuries from this problem, they are recalling the vehicles to replace the lift gate supports free of charge.
In 2001, Mitsubishi’s SUV, the Montero, received a “not acceptable” rating from Consumer Reports magazine. In their privately testing to evaluate cars’ real-world performance in emergency situations, they found that the Montero had a high propensity for tipping and rolling during quick maneuvers. At the time of the rating, Consumer Reports had been testing SUVs for rollover potential for 13 years and had only given two other vehicles “not acceptable” ratings out of 117. Mitsubishi refutes Consumer Reports’ tests, saying that they are unrealistic, overly dependent on driver input. They additionally reasserted that the US government has approved the SUV as safe. The government issues rollover ratings based on a vehicle’s dimensions, not actual test driving conditions.
In August of 2009, two teenagers in Ipswich, Massachusetts were killed in a 2000 Mitsubishi Montero SUV rollover accident when the 19-year-old driver lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle rolled over before hitting the guardrail and veering across the road. Two other passengers and the driver were taken to the local hospital. The parents of the deceased teenagers filed a lawsuit suing Mitsubishi for unsafe design, and for concealing the potential for rollover, but presumably settled out of court.
Various Mitsubishi vehicles were also involved in a huge series of recalls this year which encompassed 17 automakers who installed Japanese made Takata airbags inflators into around 42 million vehicles sold in the United States. Takata did not implement a particular drying agent or “desiccant” in the production of their airbags, which caused a degradation of the propellant. Over time, this can cause unintended and unsafe airbag explosion which can send shards of plastic shrapnel into the driver’s face while the car is in operation.
The airbags have been linked to 13 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide. Mitsubishi recalled 153,000 vehicles and Japan and various models in the US for potential danger associated with the airbags. The models include the 2012-2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the 2004-2007 Mitsubishi Lancer, the 2004-2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback and the 2006-2009 Mitsubishi Raider
2000 Cover Up
In August of 2000, Mitsubishi admitted to a systematic 30 year cover up of four specific customer complaints about vehicle malfunctions and defects. During this timespan, the company would fix the issues on a case by case basis without reporting them to the Japanese government, which was illegal. Mitsubishi employees even had a system to mark certain customer complaints. They would use an “H” to signal the first letter of the Japanese word for “secret.” Mitsubishi orchestrated the cover up to avoid having to recall any vehicles in Japan in an attempt to retain their image of dependable manufacturing.
When they revealed the facts of the cover up, they recalled 600,000 vehicles manufactured in Japan, including 50,000 vehicles that had been shipped to the United States. In the US, unlike in Japan, there had been many recalls of Mitsubishi vehicles over the previous 30 years, so the scandal did not affect US cars as frequently.
In 2004, Mitsubishi revealed 26 more defects that they had systematically covered up over the preceding 30 years. These 26 defects were added to the previous list of 4 defects that it had admitted to covering up in 2000. They disclosed this information after a massive investigation which stemmed from the death of a mother in Japan which was hit by a wheel that fell off of a Mitsubishi truck. They also revealed that many injuries had stemmed from the defects, including one other death. Again, the majority of the vehicles affected remained in Japan, with only 7,274 overseas units recalled.
Representation for Colorado Personal Injury Victims
There is a whole host of reasons why automakers might try to cover up dangerous and expensive defects within their products. They may try to preserve their good name and the appearance of dependability over the safety of their customers. It is imperative that automakers are held responsible for their products and made to come forward to disclose any safety defects that customers may find. If you or a loved one is suffering from the negligence or misinformation of a car manufacturer, you may be entitled to compensation. To schedule your free case consultation, call Jeremy Rosenthal today at (303) 853-2223 or contact him online.