Luxury int'l car brands running over Chinese trust

Updated: 2012-12-14 10:31


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BEIJING - Once-appealing international brand cars face a bumpy road ahead in China as customers lose trust in vehicles with possible fatal flaws.

The country witnessed a latest spat between a customer and international auto maker after a driver surnamed Zhang drove his two-year-old BMW 7-Li, which suffered engine failure on an expressway. He managed to steer away from a near fatal incident.

Zhang told Securities Daily that the car that cost him nearly 2 million yuan ($317,965) had a string of problems, including abnormal oil consumption, before it finally put him in the near fatal situation.

Zhang, who believed the problem was rooted in the faulty engine, asked the Munich-based German auto company to refund his money.

"The BMW personnel all wore friendly smiles, but they showed little sincerity to solve my problem," Zhang said.

BMW said in a later statement that the problem Zhang encountered lay in the feul pump, not the engine, and it rejected Zhang's claim of a refund, according to the newspaper report.

BMW cannot currently be reached for comment.

Zhang's problem led to discussions online among Internet users who told their stories.

Zhang was left disappointed over his BMW 7-Li because the company was recalling a total of 45,500 7-series car units from the United States with problematic software-controlled automatic gearbox that may affect engines since the end of October.

This is not the first time Chinese customers have been treated unfairly by foreign auto makers.

Japanese auto giant Toyota recalled more than 10 million units globally in 2009 and 2010, while it withdrew only less than 100,000 units from China, one of its largest overseas markets.

Another Japanese auto maker Honda announced on Wednesday that it will recall 871,000 cars with ignition device flaws globally, mainly from the US but none from China.

The US launched an investigation into Toyota in 2010 when the company was mired in a design flaw scandal and fined the Japanese auto maker heavily.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, China's quality watchdog, said last month that it would formulate a guideline to regulate a recalling system for faulty cars.