It's been a bumpy year for Mitsubishi. Financial problems at home in Japan prompted DaimlerChrysler AG to snatch up a 34% stake in the automaker.

Soon after DaimlerChrysler and Mitsubishi shook hands on the deal, more Mitsubishi problems hit the fan.

Mitsubishi admitted it systematically covered up some 64,000 customer complaints covering more than 30 years, hiding evidence of repairs and recalls from regulators in Japan. The Japanese government may level fines and criminal charges.

Despite Mitsubishi's woes, the automaker is doing well in the U.S. market. The U.S. division's sales are up 34.1% in the current calendar year over 1999, at 215,592 units by September. This success partially is thanks to two strong new entries for '01: the full-size Montero sport/utility vehicle (SUV) and the Eclipse Spyder.

The Montero underwent a dramatic revamp - from the boxy, old body-on-frame design to a sleek, new unibody. And Mitsubishi did not skimp on the luxury appointments.

The Eclipse Spyder, a drop-top version of the popular coupe, is not expected to be a high-volume vehicle. But the Spyder, beefier than the previous incarnation, should continue to be an image-builder.

Mitsu's looking a little shaky; can DaimlerChrysler influence calm the quivers? Meantime, the new Monteros are good, but the rest of the lineup is missing in action. Good luck this year - you're gonna need it.