Volkswagen's next-generation Magotan catches visitors' eyes at an auto expo in Jinan, Shandong province. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Over 20 million cars involved across the country, with seatbelts and airbags the main culprits
Carmakers in China recalled more than 20 million defective cars in 2017, a record high since the country introduced legislation on car recalls in 2004, according to an official with China's top quality watchdog.
A total of 20.05 million faulty cars were recalled last year, up 77 percent from 2016, said Yan Fengmin, head of the law enforcement department of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
Statistics show that 5.59 million faulty cars were recalled in 2015 and 11.34 million in 2016.
"The annual growth was more than 50 percent in each of the past three years," Yan said.
Only the United States tops China for the number of recalled cars.
Yan said since China began implementing the rule of recalling defective cars in 2004, carmakers have announced 1,548 recalls, involving a total of 56.74 million vehicles.
Airbag and seatbelt problems were the major culprits behind recalls in 2017, affecting 10.64 million cars, 53.1 percent of the annual total.
Yan said defective Takata airbags that may explode under certain conditions caused 29 automakers to recall 9.87 million vehicles in 2017 alone.
In total, the issue led to the recall of 19.52 million vehicles from 38 companies across China.
Globally, 120 million cars have been equipped with the faulty Takata airbags. The US has been by far the hardest hit, with at least 12 deaths out of the 20 recorded worldwide. So far, the defective airbags have not injured or killed people in China.
Millions more will be recalled in 2018. German carmaker Volkswagen AG announced in September that it and its Chinese partners will recall 4.86 million cars in China over faulty Takata airbags, which will be the largest ever recall in the history of the world's largest automotive market.
Following airbags are defective powertrains, which resulted in recalls of more than 4 million cars in 2017, accounting for 20.4 percent of the total in the year.
Problems concerning steering systems and electrical equipment each triggered recalls of around 1.7 million cars, and some 800,000 cars were recalled because of car body problems.
Yan said customers' rising awareness of protecting their rights facilitated the authorities' work in investigations that prompted recalls.
Based on leads from different sources, the quality watchdog conducted 43 car-related investigations in 2017, forcing carmakers to recall 13.58 million cars, 68 percent of the total recalled in the year.
Yan said the authorities also summoned 36 carmakers for meetings about faulty airbags, urging them to make recalls.
He added that all carmakers that equipped their cars with Takata airbags had finished recalling cars or issued recall plans by the end of 2017.
Efforts in this respect will constitute a major focus of the quality watchdog's work in 2018, Yan said.
He added the quality watchdog plans to work with the concerned authorities to introduce car emissions-related problems into China's car recall regulations, and gradually include all problems that affect people's safety and property in legislation.