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Auto recall rules imminent

By Li Xiaoshu (Global Times)

08:13, April 25, 2012

A recent surge in auto recalls announced by China's top quality watchdog signals that the country is closer to unveil its long-awaited auto recall system as well as refund, repair and replacement policies for automotive products, market watchers said yesterday at the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition.

"A new regulation on car recalls, refund, repair and replacement that will guarantee Chinese buyers' rights has been slow in coming as it will affect manufacturers' interests and needs administrative efforts," Zhong Shi, an independent auto analyst in Beijing, told the Global Times yesterday. "But the final arrival of the regulation will put China's auto industry into a more advanced phase."

Almost all recalls in the Chinese mainland are initiated by foreign manufacturers largely because "they have more sophisticated quality information systems than China's domestic carmakers," Geoff Broderick, Asia Pacific vice president of J.D. Power Commercial Consulting (Shanghai) Co, told the Global Times yesterday.

"Rising high-profile recalls actually show that the car companies are highly aware of their potential quality problems," he noted.

Jiang Suhua, a lawyer with Beijing Yingke Law Firm, believes domestic companies are less active as they "overly worry that the recalls will ruin their brands' image and dampen consumers' trust in their products' quality, though the reality is the opposite."

The comments came after the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) announced Monday that Chrysler China will recall 546 imported 2012 Jeep Compass and Patriot cars from May 30, due to defective fuel tanks.

The vehicles in question were produced between December 2011 and January 2012 and have a damaged rollover valve due to faulty fuel tank assembly, which may lead to fuel leakage during an accident and increase the risk of a fire, according to a GAQSIQ statement.

Chrysler China will replace the defective fuel tanks free of charge, the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times yesterday.

The latest recall follows a series of other recall notices by international automakers to the GAQSIQ in April.

BMW AG, the world's largest premium car maker by sales volume, yesterday started recalling 414 imported BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce cars with defective electronic pumps, and will recall another 120,246 vehicles from May 10 due to faulty batteries in the vehicles' trunks.

Italian luxury car maker Ferrari Maserati is recalling four Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale with four-point seat belts, because the seat belts fail to meet specifications.

Mercedes-Benz China will start a recall on May 8 of 20 imported A160 and 271 B200 models, due to potential risks in the cars' continuous variable transmission systems.

The GAQSIQ began on April 12 collecting public feedback and conducted an intensive investigation on nearly 1,000 Volkswagen cars after owners' complaints of spontaneous vibrations and noises when using the manufacturer's DSG gearboxes.

China has so far recalled more than 6 million cars, Liu Zhaobin, director of the GAQSIQ's Law and Regulations Department, was quoted by Shanghai-based China Business Daily as saying on April 12.

Meanwhile, the country handled 16,805 car quality complaints in 2011, up 19.2 percent year-on-year, the China Consumers' Association said.

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