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Auto recall law takes effect
By Qin Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-01 00:59

China's new regulations governing the recalls of "lemon" automobiles takes effect Friday.

The regulation, unveiled by the State General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine on March 15, should enable Chinese consumers to have their faulty cars fixed.

According to the regulations, if automobile owners or users find any flaws in their vehicles, they can inform relevant departments and make complaints, as well as the automobiles' manufacturers, distributors and importers.

They even may put forward suggestions to carry out investigations on potentially recalling their vehicle if the problems are serious enough.

If automobile producers attempt to cover up or do not report the complications, authorities can step in and push for them to recall their products, publicize their behaviour and/or impose fines.

Auto companies can be fined a maximum of 30,000 yuan (US$3,600) if they are found to have tried to cover up deficiencies.

The recall plan is dedicated to forcing manufacturers and importers to correct flaws that may cause injury or economic losses through repairs, changing parts or taking back vehicles.

"I think the regulation will make car manufacturers pay more attention to the quality of their products," said Beijing resident Jing Peng, who is one of the many potential car buyers in China.

He said the nation should have implemented the lemon law earlier because automobile recalls are quite a common practice in developed markets.

Before the action's implementation, some domestic and foreign automakers had already launched a wave of moves to recall faulty vehicles.

In early September, Chang'an Suzuki, the Sino-Japanese joint venture in Southwestern Chongqing Municipality, began recalling more than 157,000 Alto mini-cars because of fuel pipe faults, representing the biggest vehicle recall by number so far in China.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz of German-US auto giant DaimlerChrysler, announced in mid-September that it will recall 12,988 units of its sedans in China. That was after it found potential problems in auto body control, braking and air conditioning systems.

The affected vehicles were produced between March 1997 and March 2004.

This is Mercedes-Benz's second recall in China this year. In January, the company recalled 17 sedans in China as part of a global recall of 33,000 units.

Other domestic and foreign automakers, including FAW Car Co Ltd, Guangzhou Honda, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp and Toyota, have also recalled defective vehicles in China during the past three months.

Experts say automakers hoped to show the public their credibility through voluntary recalls before implementation of the government auto recall regulation.

The recalls are considered part of efforts, especially by domestic companies, to heighten sales, with demand for cars in China sluggish in recent months, though sales of automobiles have been on a sharp increase in China.

Although the growth rate has slowed down in the past several months, sales of China-made vehicles still grew by 19.2 per cent year-on-year in the first eight months of this year.

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