RAV4 drivers awaiting in vain

By Wang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-12 11:29
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RAV4 drivers awaiting in vain

A man looks at a new Toyota RAV4 at a Toyota automobile plant in Canada in this file photo taken in 2008. [Agencies] 

No gesture from Toyota for city motorists yet

Toyota Motor Corp is still not giving any kind of compensation or concession to RAV4 owners in Beijing, even though it recently did so elsewhere in China.

The company has been offering coupons and tokens for discounted Toyota products to RAV4 owners in Zhejiang through its stores.

Guo Yong, director of the information center of Yayuncun Auto Market, said he hasn't heard that Toyota will offer a similar deal in Beijing.

Toyota has been dogged by quality problems with its RAV4s since last December and has issued two recalls in China already, but has treated RAV4 owners in China differently from those in Western countries, according to some domestic auto industry analysts.

"The ultimate reason for this difference is the absence of laws," said Jia Xinguang, an auto analyst.

"That's why owners of RAV4s in the US can get compensation but owners in China cannot."

Now it seems the company is treating RAV4 owners in different parts of China differently, Jia added.

Zhao Xiaoguang, director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, said the office is going to draft a series of regulations to protect consumers' rights in such cases, West China Metropolis News reported.

According to a lawyer from a Beijing-based law firm, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Toyota is taking a different approach in Zhejiang because the province has stricter regulations on the quality of large-sized consumer products, which includes vehicles.

However, an auto expert said in an interview on that the company's concessions in Zhejiang simply reflect the province's greater importance as an auto market compared with other parts of China.

Zhejiang accounts for one 10th of Toyota's total sales in China and is also the most important market for its high-end Lexus brand.

Toyota should treat its customers equally based on consumer protection law, Yang Hongcan, secretary-general of the China Consumers Association, told media.

But Jia told METRO that the coupons and tokens Toyota is giving out in Zhejiang are partly promotional and don't really amount to compensation.

"It is just a gesture," said Jia.