Jean-Claude Debard, head of Mitsubishi Motors’ independent French dealer network, has resigned after describing France’s industry minister, Arnaud Montebourg, as a “retard”.
According to spokesman of Mitsubishi France, Debard has stepped down for personal reasons, with the decision taking effect immediately. Debard’s resignation came three days after he accused Montebourg of supporting policies that harm the auto industry while posing as a protector of auto workers.
“This moron, this retard, is increasing green taxes, lowering speed limits on the Paris ring road and ruining our lives,” Debard was quoted as saying by French daily La Provence. Montebourg, a member of France’s Socialist government, has accused Asian automakers of “dumping” imports on the French market. The industry minister has also heavily criticised PSA/Peugeot-Citroen for plans to scrap a domestic plant and more than 10,000 jobs.
Earlier this week Montebourg urged consumers to buy French goods and attacked the World Trade Organization for failing to stop unfair Chinese competition.
Mitsubishi issued its own apology for Debard’s “discourteous remarks.” Debard, a Frenchman, led Mitsubishi’s sales network in the country, which is owned by Swiss group Emil Frey and operates as an official importer. France’s main auto-industry group, the CCFA, defended the minister calling Debard’s remarks insulting.