Chang'an Suzuki Automobile Co, the Sino-Japanese mini car joint venture, announced yesterday it will recall 157,480 Alto cars due to potential fuel pipe problems.
The recall represents the biggest of its kind in China in terms of the number of affected vehicles.
The move comes as China will officially carry out vehicle recall regulations on October 1.
The regulations were issued on March 15.
The affected Alto cars, equipped with electric-injection engines, were produced from September 4, 1999 to March 26, 2004, said Chang'an Suzuki Automobile Co based in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
Fuel pipes in the Alto cars will possibly be abraded under strong vibration, the company said.
"Any owners of the affected Alto cars can check and repair their vehicles free of charge at Chang'an Suzuki's service stations between September 9, 2004 and March 31, 2005," the company said.
The company, jointly held by the Shenzhen-listed Chang'an Automobile Co, and Japan's Suzuki Motor and Sojitz Corp, has applied its recall plan to China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
No problems have been reported in the market so far, the company said.
Chang'an Suzuki is the third car maker in China recalling faulty vehicles since the auto recall regulations were issued.
FAW Car Co, the Shenzhen-listed arm of First Automotive Works Corp - one of China's biggest automakers - recalled some 30,000 Mazda6 sedans in June.
Guangzhou Honda, the joint venture between Honda Motor and Guangzhou Automobile Group, also recalled more than 70,000 Accord sedans in June.
Last week, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp recalled 7,802 medium and heavy-duty trucks exported to China.
Toyota Motor Corp recalled 2,339 Land Cruiser Prado sports utility vehicles in China at the end of last month.
Toyota also recalled 1,489 Lexus sedans in China in July.
Automobile recalls are new to customers and manufacturers in China, although it is a common practice in developed markets.
In the past, many manufacturers shunned recalls of their faulty vehicles as a result of the lack of concerning regulations.
However, analysts say automobile recalls will take place in China more frequently with the rapid growth of vehicle sales.
Automakers in China will face mounting pressures from recalls, which can prove costly, and should be prepared for the upcoming regulations.
Vehicle demand in China is forecasted to increase to 10 million units by 2010 from some 4.5 million units last year.
During the first seven months of this year, sales of China-made vehicles grew by 21 percent year-on-year to 2.9 million units.
Chang'an Suzuki, which also produced the Lingyang compact sedan, will have an annual production capacity of 200,000 cars by the end of this year.
The company, in which Chang'an Automobile controls a 51 percent stake, will introduce at least one new model every year within the next three years.
It has produced more than 400,000 vehicles since starting operations 10 years ago.
(China Daily September 9, 2004)