Asphalt danger in luxury vehicles

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, March 20, 2013
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Your car could give you cancer, according to a report on China Central Television which said interiors of vehicles made in China by some luxury automakers including Audi may contain harmful chemicals.

Some owners had reported unusual smells and complained of health problems, the CCTV program said yesterday.

Asphalt was found in six damping plate samples collected from Audi's A6 and Q5 models, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class, as well as BMW 3-Series and 5-Series, CCTV reported, citing a test conducted by Beijing University of Chemical Technology.

All six cars were made in China in the past three years.

The makers were using asphalt materials, which could release toxic chemicals into the air at high temperatures, instead of more environmentally-friendly but costlier resins or rubber, the report said. Damping plates are used to absorb vibration.

CCTV said the three automakers could save 97 million yuan (US$15.6 million) to 130 million yuan per year in China by using asphalt damping plates, based on the around 650,000 domestically-produced cars they sold in the country last year.

In the CCTV report, a Mr Jin from Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province said he frequently suffered coughing, dizziness, fatigue and other physical discomforts after driving a Mercedes-Benz C200 for two years.

Jin said his doctor told him his lungs were like those of someone who had been smoking for more than 10 years. Jin, in his early 30s, doesn't drink or smoke.

The doctor, Zhang Jun, didn't directly link Jin's declining health and the in-car pollution. But he said Jin's lung condition was not consistent with his age and the environment he lives in. "There should be an external cause," Zhang said. "But we need further investigation to determine what the specific reason is."

China enacted its first guidelines for in-vehicle air quality a year ago, but pungent odors are still a lingering issue for many cars, whether new or used.

BMW China, and its joint venture, said last night that close attention was being paid to the case, and it had been reported to relevant departments.

"About the technical details, we need to check with the headquarters as well as the related technical and manufacturing departments," it said.

Mercedes-Benz said all the materials it used in its vehicles sold in China followed the company's own quality standards, and were no different from cars sold in any other countries. It would cooperate with relevant department to launch investigation into the story, it said.

Last Friday, in its special consumer rights program, CCTV found fault with two other automakers, Germany's Volkswagen and China's Jianghuai.

Volkswagen has agreed to fix defective direct-shift gearbox systems, while Jianghuai is dealing with rust problems.

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