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Voluntary recalls show carmakers addressing customer complaints

By Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-09 11:17
Dongfeng Honda has announced recalls of 130,000 defective CR-V models in China following the State Administration for Market Regulation's investigations. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Market regulator reveals data on quality problems for first half of year

Carmakers in China are more willing to face up to and solve quality problems, with voluntary recalls accounting for 73 percent of total recalls from January to June, said the country's top quality watchdog.

A total of 4.86 million defective cars were recalled in the first half of the year, a similar number compared with the same period last year, according to statistics the State Administration for Market Regulation released last week, and only 1.31 million were recalled as a result of the administration's investigations.

The administration did not elaborate on why carmakers are becoming less reluctant to solve the problems but analysts said rising customer awareness and easy ways for car owners to file complaints rank among the main reasons.

Since China implemented the rule of recalling defective cars in 2004, carmakers in the country have announced 1,657 recalls, involving a total of 61.6 million vehicles, according to the administration.

In the first half of this year, airbag and seatbelt problems were the main reasons for the recalls, affecting 1.35 million cars, nearly 28 percent of the total. Following airbags and seatbelts were braking systems, which resulted in recalls of 1.34 million vehicles in the same period.

Problems concerning the powertrain triggered recalls for around 1.2 million cars, accounting for less than 25 percent.

The administration said rising awareness of consumer rights was a key factor in its investigations that led to recalls.

Based on leads from multiple sources, the administration conducted dozens of investigations in the first half of the year, which forced carmakers to recall 1.31 million cars, accounting for 27 percent of the total.

"The absolute majority of recalls following our investigations were sparked by customer complaints," said the administration on its website.

The administration said one example was the complaints it started to receive from late last year about Dongfeng Honda's CR-V model, saying that the lubricant levels in its engines fluctuated in very cold conditions. It soon summoned a series of meetings with the Sino-Japanese joint venture from March to May and started investigations into the problems at the same time.

The results finally prompted Dongfeng Honda to recall 130,000 defective CR-V models and to of er a life-long warranty for major components of the engines. The administration said that so far, more than a quarter of Dongfeng Honda's defective cars have been recalled and it will continue to pay close attention to the issue before the recalls are finished.

To ensure the positive results of recalls has been one of its key tasks, said the administration, which has been collecting customer opinions and feedback during recalls.

Statistics show that it received 1,626 complaints about 86 recalls made by 39 carmakers in the first half of the year.

Based on the complaints, the administration has found that some manufacturers and dealers were slow to inform owners of defective cars, did not inform all owners of affected cars or did not ensure supplies of components for defective models.

"We found the problems and urged them to solve them, thus ensuring the results of recalls," said the administration.

The administration said it will adopt a series of new measures to better protect consumer rights.

Among others, it will focus on investigations into wide-affecting problems and supervise whether carmakers recall cars as they have promised.

The administration will also make use of new technologies such as big data to better inform customers of recall information, make it easier for customers to file complaints and simpler for carmakers to register its recall plans.

It also plans to work with relevant authorities in the country to introduce car emissions-related problems into China's car recall regulations, and gradually include all problems that affect people's safety and property in legislation, said the administration.

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