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Auto blogTue, 19 Feb 2013 17:45:00 EST
We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #321 tonight, and you can drop us your questions and comments regarding the rest of the week's news via our Q&A module below. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #321
Unibody Ford Ranger replacement
An official with the transport ministry in Japan has some stern words for Mitsubishi, taking the carmaker to task for not being more proactive and honest about its recalls. An investigation into The Tri-Star last December found Mitsubishi was tardy investigating problems and didn't explain itself forthrightly to the transport ministry about the issues. None of Mitsubishi's actions were illegal, and we should stress that this is a dialogue with Mitsubishi in Japan, not Mitsubishi Motors North America.
The official advised the automaker to, "Come up with plans for improvement, implement them and report them to the ministry." It looks like the company will get more practice than it wants in that department, having to announce another recall for the Outlander PHEV over software and hardware glitches. Those recalls come just after Mitsu finally figured out the problem with overheating lithium-ion batteries that caused a production halt of the plug-in hybrid SUV.
Mitsubishi is often derided in the US for its relatively boring lineup, Lancer Evolution aside, but the company is on the upswing worldwide, recently posting record global operating profits. The Japanese automaker may get a further boost in the near future from a rumored pickup truck deal with Fiat.
According to insider sources speaking to Automotive News Europe, Mitsubishi would reportedly build a variant of its widely respected L200 pickup truck for the Fiat Professional brand in Europe and Latin America starting in 2016. The L200 is larger than the Fiat Strada front-wheel-drive pickup already available in those markets, and it's available in rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations. The idea of adding a midsize truck to the commercial lineup was in the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles five-year plan, but it didn't include any mention of a partnership to build it.
At first blush, the Mitsubishi agreement seems like an odd move, given that Fiat already owns pickup truck specialists Ram. However, according to ANE, the company had at one time planned to use a version of a new Dodge Dakota pickup for duty in Europe and Latin America, but the model never came to fruition.