Mitsubishi Montero Sports ‘sudden’ acceleration threatens public security

Complaints about the “sudden and unintended” acceleration of Mitsubishi’s Montero Sports model have been circulating in the social media after several videos of the incidents went viral and received negative feedbacks from the netizens.

In a video uploaded by Top Gear Philippines , one of the popular SUV’s in town turned out as a reckless monster hitting three motorcycles while backing up in the parking lot of a Quezon City Police Station, before launching forward to hit two other cars.

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According to the owner named JR, he narrated “Bigla na lang nakarinig ako ng malakas na ingay ng makina–na akala mo, galit na galit. Ginawa ko ang lahat. Inapakan ko yung brake at hinand-brake ko, pero wala e. Dere-derecho e. May sa-demonyo yung sasakyan. Akala ko katapusan ko na nung panahon na yun.”

(“I suddenly heard a loud engine noise–it sounded really angry. I did everything. I stepped on the brake pedal, and then engaged the handbrake, but nothing happened. It continued to accelerate. The vehicle was possessed by the devil. I thought it was already the end for me.”)

Driver’s Error?

Top Gear Philippines motoring experts meanwhile  argue that this might be a driver’s error as brake lights didn’t come on (as you have seen in the video) if he really stepped on the breaks.

Top Gear’s Print associate editor Paulo Subido said that the brake lights should have been activated if the brake pedal had been depressed. “The brake-light switch is located behind the pedal.”

“Stepping on the brake pedal will trigger a switch, which will then turn on the brake lights. That switch is independent of the hydraulic mechanism of the brake system. It should work even if the actual brakes fail,” he explained.

“All I see is a car out of control. No brake lights means no brakes applied. The brake lights don’t look like they were damaged from the initial impact. If I had to surmise, the puff of black smoke just before the vehicle came to a stop was proof of a last-ditch effort to stab on the brakes, but the accelerator pedal was depressed instead. Watch the timing when the black smoke came out–it appears just about or fractionally before the impact, which would indicate that the driver may have tried to step hard on the brake but hit the throttle instead,” technical editor Ferman Lao said.

Lao analyze the sequence of events. Driver stepped on the throttle while backing up then released the throttle to dab the brakes a bit, but hit the throttle instead. Car went backward and hit the motorcycles. Driver dropped the shifter in D to move forward (or to N, but went to D) and finally car shoot forward.

“It happened pretty quick, so it would have been hard for anyone to catch–particularly when one is caught off guard,” he stressed.

DTI probes

As an initial respond to the class suit that will be filed against Mitsubishi Philippines, The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has formed a team to investigate the fatal incidents.

The DTI, in accordance with Republic Act No. 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, appointed a panel composed of three trade officials who are to initiate an investigation on the reported  incidents involving the Mitsubishi Montero covering the period 2010 to 2015. Meaning to say, the videos we are seeing in the social media did not just happen this year but since 2010 where some of the complaints were fixed as Mitsubishi offers “buy back” among the victims.

DTI were asked to order Mitsubishi to pull back the model in stores while investigation is ongoing.

‘Nothing Wrong’

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines first vice president for marketing Froilan Dytianquin defended that the company has already conducted a number of extensive testings and investigations of the reported incidents and the results have shown that the Montero Sport remains to be safe for use.

“We welcome the move by the DTI. We were supposed to have a press conference this Friday to show the results of our investigation in the latest case involving the sudden and unintended accelerations. We were able to get in touch with the complainant who allowed us to check his unit. We will come out with the findings by next week,” Dytianquin told in a phone interview made by Inquirer.

According to Dytianquin, they have even involved the MMC of Japan, which has already conducted extensive testing and investigation of all submitted claims of unintended acceleration, in the absence of an automotive third party testing facility in the Philippines.

“We stand firm that there is nothing wrong with the Montero Sport. It’s a safe vehicle and we have tested it. We have already addressed some 97 cases here and for all the testings and investigations we’ve done, the results showed that there were no defects as far as the electronics and mechanical are concerned,” he said.

“We started selling the Montero in the Philippines in 2008. And this model, which is produced in Thailand, is being sold in more than 90 countries. Except for five isolated cases in Australia and New Zealand, there were no incidents of unintended acceleration elsewhere, except the Philippines,” he added.

The company is set to conduct a press conference on Tuesday, December 1 to answer the allegations against the car model.