Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - Page 15 News List

VW orders China vehicle recall over faulty gearbox

CONSUMER ANXIETY:The reaction to the firm’s recall showed Western firms are not immune to backlashes as Chinese consumers become more concerned with quality

AP, BEIJING

Volkswagen AG (VW) announced a recall yesterday of more than 384,000 vehicles in China to fix gearboxes following a report last week by state TV that criticized the quality of the German automaker’s cars.

Volkswagen said that problems with direct-shift gearboxes might cause a power interruption, but it said drivers could remain in control and maneuver to a stop. The company said it would repair gearboxes and install the latest software upgrades at no cost to owners. Many systems in modern cars are controlled electronically.

The recall applies to vehicles imported or manufactured in China between December 2008 and this month, the government’s product quality agency said in a separate statement. It said that included models such as the Sirocco, Golf Wagon, Jetta, Magotan, Touran and Passat.

A broadcast on Friday by Chinese state television to mark World Consumer Rights Day accused Volkswagen of selling cars with substandard gearbox systems, causing unspecified problems for some drivers.

The recall comes at a time of anxiety in China over product safety following a series of scandals over fake or tainted food, milk powder, medicines and other goods.

China is VW’s biggest market and sales have helped to buoy the company’s finances against weaker performance in other global markets.

Volkswagen sold 2.8 million vehicles in China last year for a 14 percent share of the market, according to LMC Automotive, a research firm.

Foreign firms are often regarded in China as more reliable than domestic brands, but any quality problems are widely publicized.

Separately, VW’s Taiwanese distributor said it has no recall plans.

“We recalled cars with the same gearboxes and upgraded their software last December and are waiting for further instructions to see if Volkswagen has other concerns about the gearboxes,” Beldare Motors (標達國際汽車) public relations manager Nelly Liao (廖英瑛) said by telephone.

Additional reporting by Camaron Kao

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