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Mercedes-Benz Threatens Suit After Consumer Protest
Mercedes-Benz China yesterday threatened to take legal action against Mercedes driver Wang Sheng, who destroyed his sedan in public last month on the grounds that Mercedes had failed to repair his car.

The car firm said yesterday, "We are currently actively investigating the possibility of taking legal action against Wang, the Wuhan Wildlife Zoo or any other party involved in these actions."

On December 26, Wang Sheng -- chairman of the board at the zoo in Central China's Hubei Province -- destroyed the car in front of a crowd of onlookers and journalists.

The zoo could not be reached for comment on yesterday's announcement because its top management personnel are in Beijing to seek media support.

The wildlife park's top officials were interviewed by China Central Television (CCTV) yesterday afternoon. They were due to contact other media outlets in Beijing in the following days, according to a zoo official in Wuhan.

On Monday, the zoo organized an association of Mercedes users who have been complaining about their cars' defects.

The association members are from five cities in addition to Wuhan, namely Beijing, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Xi'an and Zhuhai.

A joint declaration released by the association demanded that the German carmaker take responsibility for its products as soon as possible.

Mercedes-Benz, however, has repeatedly denied that Wang's car had any production faults.

The company said yesterday: "We remain confident that the vehicle does not have a quality problem."

Wang had trouble starting the car's ignition, but the firm blamed the problem on the use of contaminated fuel.

Wuhan park bought the sedan for 700,000 yuan (US$85,000) in December 2000 and claimed it developed engineering faults within days.

Mercedes-Benz in Beijing sent technicians to Wuhan to repair the car five times at the zoo's request, but the same problem kept cropping up.

After several failed attempts to return the car to the company, the zoo took the extreme action, attracting attention across the country.

(China Daily January 10, 2002)

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