BEIJING - Adding injury to embarrassment, the Chinese government last week banned the import of Mitsubishi Pajero sport-utilities following disclosures that the automaker had been repairing a brake defect in the vehicles without issuing a formal recall or notifying officials.
Mitsubishi issued an official recall last week after the import ban was announced, admitting that it began repairing defective Pajeros last November following complaints and reports of accidents.
It was not clear how long the ban would last.
Speaking in Tokyo, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Takeshi Sonobe said he would send a director-level executive to China to oversee the Pajero recall.
'We regard this matter seriously,' he said.
The automaker promised that all Pajeros, including vehicles not purchased through authorized dealers, would be repaired for free.
But the China Consumer Association castigated Mitsubishi for the delay in recalling the faulty vehicles.
'Chinese consumers have experienced difficulty in the past safeguarding their rights in similar incidents involving Mitsubishi products,' the association said.
Mitsubishi has exported 15,000 Pajeros - known in the United States as the Montero - to China and built another 20,000 at a joint-venture plant in Hunan province. But the government estimates that as many as 75,000 may have been imported into China illegally.