The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) on Monday launched a ‘Voluntary Code on Vehicle Recall’ for passenger vehicle, two-wheeler and commercial vehicle manufacturers. The code specifies all the conditions and procedures the manufacturers need to follow on detection of any manufacturing defects in any of the two and four wheelers, enforceable from July 1, 2012.
The safety recall would cover only vehicles within seven years of manufacture and the required information relating to the recall has to be clearly posted on the Websites of the auto companies and the communication will also be sent to the vehicle owners. As per the guidelines, manufactures may voluntarily recall vehicles for the rectification of safety-related defects arising from the following:
- Malfunction of steering components that cause complete loss of vehicle control.
- Defects in the braking system, which causes significant loss of braking function.
- Malfunction in fuel system-related components that result in unintended fuel leakage or unintended acceleration.
- Cracked or broken wheels that result in loss of vehicle control.
- Failure/malfunction of seats, seat backs, seatbelt mechanism or head restraint system that exposes the occupants to immediate danger.
- Problems in the wiring system that result in loss of complete lighting.
According to the voluntary code, the defective vehicle will be rectified by the manufacturer through its dealers free of cost for the customer. Importantly, the responsibility for the defective component lies not with the component manufacturer but the vehicle manufacturer, and does not affect the aftermarket.
In case the vehicle manufacturer fails to announce, recall or rectify the damaged part where clear evidence of a material or design defect is visible, the Union Government will have the prerogative to initiate punitive action against the defaulting company that could include imposing financial fines or penalising the OEM further in case of deaths due to accident.
For instance in India, Maruti has had eight to nine recalls since the 1990s. This includes about 1,00,000 units of the A-star hatchback being recalled due to a fuel tank issue in 2010. Tata Motors had also offered a free fix on over 70,000 units of the Nano following instances of fire, but abstained from calling it a recall. Toyota had recalled about 40,000 Etios models for defective parts in India as well.
S Sandilya, president of SIAM said –
“The recall code has been framed with consensus of all members. Companies would adhere to it voluntarily to rectify defects in vehicles and secure their own brand image. The expenses they incur to replace faulty parts as a part of the recall exercise does not require any additional penalties to be put in place.”
What we say? What if auto manufacturers refuse to stick by the voluntary code or what if they don’t act at all even when faced with clear evidence of a faulty component? In such cases especially in the country like India should follow the strong legislation like in the U.S. that would allow the government to punish auto makers.