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Car recalls become a routine, but no recall policy yet

Saturday, 12 April 2014 - 9:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Maruti Suzuki, India's biggest carmaker, on Friday announced the recall of 1,03,311 units of its popular models — Ertiga, Swift and DZire — manufactured between November 12, 2013 and February 4, 2014, to replace faulty fuel filler neck.

This follows another recall early this week by Japanese carmaker – Toyota Kirloskar Motor of around 45,000 units of its multi purpose vehicle (MPV) to rectify defect in the steering column.

Recalls are increasingly becoming a routine within the automotive industry. The industry reported a number of recalls in the past two years ever since the adoption of Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers' (SIAM) Voluntary Recall Code adopted in July 2012. The Voluntary Code addresses the potential issues that exist in a motor vehicle that do not meet the safety requirement due to manufacturing defect and the remedial actions taken in this regard.

Explaining the reasons for the recall, Marut Suzuki said in a statement that in the affected vehicles, there is a possibility of fuel smell and in extreme condition, there may be some fuel leakage, if filled up to the fuel cap, beyond the 'auto cutoff level'. "Maruti Suzuki dealers will contact owners of all vehicles in the above mentioned range. The company will replace the fuel filler neck free of cost," it added.

After having discussed about having a mandatory recall policy in place for more than year, the government is yet to make a formal announcement. The move is expected to put India in line with standards set by other major auto markets like the US, China and Japan.

The industry has seen at least 8-10 recalls since June 2012. According to industry experts, the new recall policy is expected in this fiscal.

Even though Indian carmakers are becoming proactive in announcing recalls, a segment of industry experts feel that the auto recalls on voluntary basis in India by leading car makers are rooted into their mandatory compulsion of auto recall in the country of their origin where from the recall sequence on every occasion leads to its impact on India.

In one of the biggest recalls in the industry, General Motors last year recalled 1,14,000 units of its sports utility vehicle (SUV), Tavera to address the emissions and specifications issues. Later, GM confessed to the government of India that its engineers manipulated the emissions tests for Tavera to comply with the government norms. The company had fired some employees after an internal probe.

"When those standards are not met, we will take the appropriate action to hold employees accountable," the company had said in a statement then.

The mandatory recall policy, once implemented, is likely to levy a penalty on manufacturers or ask them to stop production.

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