Mitsubishi, dog paddling furiously to keep afloat in a stormy sea of bad news, has been handed a pair of cast-iron booties by the NAACP.
The civil rights group has branded Mitsubishi Motors North America the worst of the automakers in terms of fostering racial diversity. It gave the automaker a "D" grade, scoring 1.18 on a 4-point scale. The criteria: employment,
vendor development, advertising/marketing, charitable giving and investing/franchising.
As a whole, the auto industry got a "C" in the NAACP's annual ranking of the 10 largest auto companies operating in the United States. Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group led with "B-" grades. Volkswagen and Hyundai were the other "D" performers, ranking just above Mitsubishi.
Mitsubishi spokesman Dan Irvin cried foul, saying the company "is fully committed to diversity. It's part of our culture."
Unfortunately, that culture in recent months also has included sagging sales, heavy executive turnover and two recalls of its newly launched, and critically important, redesigned Eclipse. As a cost-cutting move, the parent company announced it is moving back to its old headquarters in Tokyo, after moving to a glitzy new Tokyo facility in 2003.