Visitors inspect information on the windscreen of a Toyota car on display at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Automakers recalled nearly 5 million passenger cars in the first half of this year in China, 40 percent of which were premium cars, according to the country's top quality watchdog.
Statistics from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine show that 38 carmakers, including both volume and premium brands, made 118 recalls of 4.86 million cars from January to June, an 18.87 percent fall from the same period last year.
More than 2 million cars recalled were from premium brands, ranging from Audi to Lexus, accounting for 41 percent of the total. In terms of overall rankings, Audi occupied first place by recalling 1.26 million cars, followed by Toyota with 940,000, Volkswagen with 630,000 and Mercedes-Benz 430,000.
The number of cars recalled peaked in March, totaling 2.6 million, more than half of all defective cars recalled in the first half of the year.
In contrast, a little more than 1 million cars were recalled from April to June.
Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, said this had something to do with the annual March 15 Consumer Rights Day Gala, hosted by China Central Television.
"Some carmakers issued recalls ahead of the event to prevent being exposed," said Cui.
Yet the number of recalls is expected to rise soon, as the general administration is investigating cars with faulty Takata airbags that can explode under certain conditions. It said in a July 6 news release that some 20 million cars in China are equipped with Takata airbags. Of these, 10.59 million have been recalled and five carmakers are planning to recall another 1.26 million cars soon.
That means 8 million vehicles have not yet been recalled. The general administration said it is prompting several major automakers－Volkswagen, GM and Mercedes-Benz－to recall their share.
"According to our investigation and experts' appraisals, Takata's faulty airbags are likely to burst and therefore pose potential risks to drivers and passengers.
"So, the carmakers should take effective measures to eliminate the problems and prevent possible injuries," said the general administration.
GM China said: "We are actively developing a comprehensive recall plan and will work closely with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to take appropriate actions in the near future."
Volkswagen Group China gave a similar response, saying it is discussing its plans regarding the Takata airbags with the authorities. "We will take appropriate and agreed measures as soon as possible," said a representative at the German carmaker.
So far, the defective airbags have not injured or killed people in China. The United States has been by far the hardest hit, with 11 deaths out of the 16 recorded worldwide. Globally, 120 million cars are equipped with the faulty Takata airbags.