Tokyo, Japan—Mitsubishi Motors Corp. chairman and chief executive Osamu Masuko said the company tapped a third party to investigate cases of sudden unintended acceleration involving Montero Sports vehicles in the Philippines.
“It is unfortunate that this [SUA] happened. We are sorry for the customers who have expressed concern. Montero Sports is an important vehicle for us. We would like to solve this problem,” Masuko told Filipino journalists in a news briefing.
Masuko said Mitsubishi had decided to tap the services of third-party expert Horiba Mira of the United Kingdom to expedite the evaluation process following the conduct of government bidding for a third party assessment facility that failed twice already.
Horiba Mira, which signed the contract with Mitsubishi in May, is expected to release the outcome of the investigation by end-July.
Montero Sports was the best selling SUV in the Philippines for five years starting 2009.
Masuko said Philippine sales of Montero dipped at the height of the problem, but started to recover with the release of the next-generation Montero Sports in January 2016.
The new Montero is packed with safety features that are expected to raise sales, it said.
Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. coordinated its intention to conduct the third-party evaluation with the European firm to the Philippine Trade Department.
“We do not know for sure what the [Philippine] Trade Department will make of our efforts. We just want to move on from the SUA issue to other important matters,” MMPC president and chief executive Yoshiaki Kato said.
Kato said MMPC brought Montero Sports units to the UK for assessment.
The Philippine Trade Department is also conducting a separate investigation on the Montero issue.
Mitsubishi said that in more than a hundred markets where Montero was present, the Philippines had the most number of complaints involving 200 cases.
Mitsubishi said it was able to settle over a hundred complaints by repair or buy-back while about 30 to 50 Montero owners filed official complaints before the Trade Department.
Kato said that in other markets, SUA cases on the Montero was very minimal with only four or five observed cases. In these cases, Mitsubishi was able to determine the cause of the problem.
Mitsubishi said despite the complaints, Montero was its best selling unit with sales reaching 5,600 units as of May 2016. The New Montero accounted for 3,400 of total sales.
Mitsubishi said Montero sales in June were expected to hit 1,000 units, up from 800 units in May. Sales are expected to gradually increase to 1,5000 units starting August.
Mitsubishi is looking at increasing domestic sales of the Montero to 2,000 units a month before Christmas.
Global sales of Montero have reached 400,000 units since its introduction in 2008.