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Chery recalls cars over mirror fault
By Li Jian (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-22 06:37

SHANGHAI: Chery Automobile Co Ltd, one of China's largest independent car makers, is recalling nearly 19,000 of its Oriental Son models because of a problem with its vanity mirror, according to a company spokesman yesterday.

Spokesman Qin Lihong said the recall covers vehicles made between July 14, 2003 and May 6, 2005. The process will begin on Saturday.

It is the first car recall carried out by a domestic car maker since China's recall regulations took effect last year.

And Qin told China Daily: "It is the first car recall in the past nine years for China's domestic car makers. It was a hard decision to make, but we decided to be brave.

"The recall shows our commitment to provide high-quality and safe cars."

He said a supplier, which he declined to identify, failed to provide up-to-scratch vanity mirrors, placed on the inside of sun visors.

The problem lay with the mirror's light, which does not always turn off properly, causing the batteries to run down. This leads to difficulties starting the engine.

The model, one of the most popular models among middle class buyers, is mainly sold in China, with a small number exported to the Middle East.

Chery, the fastest-growing independent auto maker in China, is well-known for its low prices.

No injuries or accidents caused by the imperfection have been reported so far.

The company is considering the possibility of recalling models exported to the Middle East, said Qin.

Consumers and experts in the business have applauded Chery.

Sun Jian, an analyst from market consulting firm AT Kearney, said the recall would help Chery build up its brand and polish its reputation as a responsible car maker.

"It is a signal that China's domestic car makers are adapting themselves to the rules of the market," Sun said.

The recall follows the end of a three-year intellectual property rights dispute between US-based auto maker General Motors (GM) and Chery.

Qin said Chery has resolved the dispute amicably, with GM abandoning efforts to stop Chery building a copy of one of its small cars in China.

GM withdrew all lawsuits relating to the dispute on Friday and signed an agreement with Chery.

But Qin did not reveal the terms of the agreement.

GM had argued that the QQ car was a copy of the Chevrolet Spark, also known as the Matiz, designed by its GM Daewoo subsidiary in Korea.

Malcolm Bricklin, Chery's American partner, said Chery would continue to legally sell and export its QQ model.

Bricklin said the agreement clears the way for him to import the QQ into the US from 2007, according to the Associated Press.

The small-engined QQ is the eighth best-selling model in China this year.

Bricklin has said that he would eventually like to sell as many as 1 million Chinese-made vehicles annually in the United States.

The company has become the biggest car exporter in China, selling 18,000 cars abroad this year.

The Anhui-based Chery is teaming up with top engineering firms such as UK-based Lotus Engineering, Japan-based Mitsubishi Automotive Engineering and auto design firms Bertone and Pininfarina, both based in Italy, to produce economic cars at competitive prices.

According to Zhang Lin, general manager of Chery International, Chery is building a global sales network.

"Next year we are planning to build our first sales and service network in the Middle East," he said.

(China Daily 11/22/2005 page10)

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