DTI orders third party to settle Montero Sport issue

DTI orders third party to settle Montero Sport issue
But Mitsubishi PH still faces a separate complaint, filed by a DTI bureau, for selling a 'defective' product

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ordered a thorough vehicle check-up by a third-party laboratory to resolve the Mitsubishi Montero Sport sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) issue.

The agency issued the order on Thursday, December 17, after the investigating panel it formed failed to establish conclusive findings on any vehicle defect.

In a 15-page preliminary report, the 3-man DTI panel said it would release within 30 days the terms of reference for the appointment of a third-party laboratory that would conduct what it called an electromagnetic compatibility test on the electronic control units (ECU) or computers of the Montero Sport units that experienced SUA.

Enrico Claro Delmoro, manager of the Electronics Product Development Center (EPDC) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), said the test would determine if other electronic devices interfere with the ECU, which may in turn affect the functions of the other parts of the Montero Sport.

The DOST only has the capability to conduct tests on individual parts, and not a total diagnostic on an entire vehicle.

Ensuring impartiality

DTI Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba said the agency is inclined to choose either Bureau Veritas or TUV as the independent laboratory. Both are German companies. (READ: Mitsubishi PH: Third party must settle Montero Sport issue)

The government will also pay for the test to ensure impartiality.

Dimagiba also said new information have emerged in the hearings of the panel which led the latter to question the integrity of the software that runs the ECU. It was revealed that the ECU software was supplied by a third party – critical information that Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) did not disclose.

Quality reassurance

The DTI panel also ordered the 24 complainants to subject their Monteros to mandatory preventive maintenance, with very specific tests.

Dimagiba said the MMPC should issue a quality reassurance certificate for affected vehicles, and even for those which did not experience SUA but were taken to Mitsubishi for a free check-up.

“They should walk the talk. That certificate will state that the vehicles are safe and road-worthy,” Dimagiba added.

Not yet off the hook

Even if MMPC got what it wanted a third party to resolve the Montero Sport SUA issue it is not yet off the hook.

The company is facing a separate administrative complaint with the Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) filed by the DTI on behalf of the 24 complainants for selling a defective product as contained in the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

The FTEB’s hearing officer on the formal administrative charge has 20 days to resolve the issue from December 16, 2015, the day the case was docketed.

This also does not preclude the DTI from filing criminal charges against the officers of MMPC.

The agency also recommended that the 24 complainants file individual claims for refund, which is one of their demands.

‘Welcome’ decision

For its part, MMPC said it welcomed the DTI’s decision to get the services of a third party.

MMPC also welcomed the DTI’s recommendation to conduct the free inspection and mandatory preventive maintenance of all DTI-identified SUA complainants’ vehicles, and issue a quality reassurance certificate.

“MMPC will remind its current and new customers the proper operation of an automatic vehicle and other safety measures in starting and driving a vehicle,” it said Thursday.

MMPC also assured Montero Sport owners that it remains committed to a transparent resolution of the issue.

“MMPC deeply regrets and sympathizes with its customers that have been affected by the alleged SUA issues. MMPC will continue to work with its customers to assure their safety,” the automotive distributor said. – Rappler.com

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