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Auto blogFri, 27 Sep 2013 18:31:00 EST
Nine Japanese suppliers have pleaded guilty in US court over charges of price fixing in the automotive parts industry, resulting in the Department of Justice doling out a total of $740 million of fines, according to a report from Bloomberg. The scandal, which has resulted in General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler spending up to $5 billion on inflated parts and driving up prices on 25 million vehicles has sent the DoJ hustling into investigations. "The conduct this investigation uncovered involved more than a dozen separate conspiracies aimed at the U.S. economy," Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured above) said during yesterday's press conference.
As the investigation stands, the DoJ has issued $1.6 billion in fines against 20 companies and 21 individual executives, with 17 of the execs headed to prison. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Scott Hammond said, "The breadth of the conspiracies brought to light today are as egregious as they are pervasive. They involve more than a dozen separate conspiracies operating independently but all sharing in common that they targeted US automotive manufacturers."
Big-name suppliers indicted in the investigation include Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hitachi Automotive and Mitsuba Corporation. A list of fines and other corporations named in the investigation is available at Bloomberg.
By now, you're surely aware that Suzuki is pulling out of the US market. It was a bit of a foregone conclusion to most who've been paying attention to the automotive realm, but it still sent a small shockwave through the industry. And one of the most oft-heard retorts goes something like this: "Next up: Mitsubishi."
It's easy to understand why many question Mitsubishi's existence in the States. After all, now that Suzuki is gone, Mitsubishi is the Japanese automaker with the fewest sales in America. Furthermore, the automaker's market share has dropped from .7 percent to just .4 percent after seeing sales fall 29 percent to 50,103 units through October.
In any case, Mitsubishi fans needn't worry. Speaking to Automotive News, Mitsubishi President Osamu Masuko said, "We have no intention whatsoever of withdrawing from the US market." That's about as clear as clear can get. It's also worth mentioning that Gayu Uesugi was just named chairman of Mitsubishi Motors North America, and his main responsibility will be to revitalize the brand in the US.
Arnaud Montebourg (pictured), French Minister of Industrial Recovery, was recently the target of a rather despicable slur at the hands of Mitsubishi France's leader, Jean-Claude Debard.
Frustrated by Montebourg's attempts to encourage the purchase of lower emitting vehicles and discourage use of high-emission vehicles - by way of tax breaks and tax hikes, respectively - Debard reportedly used the occasion of a new product launch to call the minister "stupid," a "mental case" and a "retard" before members of the media. Here's the full quote, as reported by the French newspaper La Provence by way of The Telegraph:
"This mental case, this retard, increases ecological taxes, reduces the speed motorists can go on Paris' ring road and ruins the life of motorists from all social origins all suffer as a result of him. He is stupid and understands nothing, you can quote me on that."