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Danger Lurks In Chinese Imports

The automotive press have got stuck into the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for not taking decisive action against Chinese auto makers Great Wall and Chery.


Great Wall is the most successful Chinese brand in Australia, ranking in the top half of all imports, and is continuing to make significant inroads into the Australian market. So, are the press, and the motor repair trade justified in getting het up, or is it just a media beat up?

Let’s look at the facts-and it’s all about the asbestos content in the engine bays of these cars:-
• Asbestos was frequently and almost universally employed in motor vehicles for brake pads, engine gaskets and other parts for many years.
• Use of asbestos was banned for all motor vehicles sold in Australia in 2004
• Ateco imports Great Wall and Chery cars into Australia. They were given ‘written assurances’ that these vehicles complied with Australian design rules (and therefore did not use asbestos) before they signed the import licence agreements in 2007.
• But that was not the case, as it appears that these vehicle did have asbestos in them, thereby contravening various regulations.
• The ACCC was therefore brought into play to determine what action should be taken.
• Repairers called upon the ACCC to issue a full recall and replace all offending parts immediately. That would have cost many millions of dollars.
• The ACCC demurred, instead directing that warning stickers be attached to the offending parts at the next scheduled service- a much more watered down solution that some demanded. The ACCC said that the gaskets were sealed within the engine and presented no risk whatsoever to drivers.

But asbestos is deadly so is the ACCC acting irresponsibly?

The “YES” lobby says they are because the dangers are exemplified in later years when mechanics and possibly handymen owners start to mess around in the engine bay. Stickers may have come off, and owners/mechanics will have a false sense of security as they would be thinking that asbestos is banned, and therefore not a problem.

The “NO”  lobby says that the ACCC has done all that’s necessary, that there is no immediate danger, and that mechanics have become well aware of the handling requirements of gaskets, and current imports of these cars now comply absolutely.

But a wider point of view asks how a car maker can be so unaware of the dangers of its own products and is casting doubts on the manufacturers themselves.
Of course the competitors to these two makers are happy to join in the fray, as there’s no doubt that Great Wall, particularly, is causing them a headache. Breaches with Customs and Border Protection have even been mentioned, and here the fines could be many, many millions of dollars.
We think the bigger picture is at play, that competitors are using every trick in the book to decry Chinese imports, which prompts us to ask how good they really are? Certainly they have a very big price advantage, but are they value for money, do they perform well and reliably?
If you have a Great Wall or a Chery, or you know of someone who has, we’d love to hear from you.
We also want to know what you think of the ACCC’s initiative, so have your say below.

12 comments

  1. Tradesman says:

    Hi, I own a Great Wall V240 since 11/2009 and it was recalled twice only two bolts from seat belts and hand brake. After that i’ve noticed some noise in the gearbox and they booked me in 4 days later to get fixed under warranty and i was left 4 weeks with a brand new V240 as service loaner due to parts(some bearings) being shipped from china. I’ve clocked nearly 4000K’s on that car as a mobile trader and they never complained.
    My own experience up to now:
    – Costumer service from Great Wall with my issues was treated much better than most of Australian car manufactures cars i’ve ever owned.
    – Great Savings on Gov. 50% tax rebate at the time on new cars..
    – Took in count 3 years warranty or 100k’s and the extras for the dollar..
    – I’ve just done 99548k’s up to now and no major issues..
    – Would I buy another one? NO. But I would buy a Diesel version with the new and not so chinese looking front end..
    – still thinking…
    And about the ACCC’s initiative, just politics..
    My thoughts on about how safe this car is? Well, I had two motorbikes before and for as far as i can remember motorbike rider safety still the same as decades ago, leathers and helmet.. I’m from a generation when I lerned to drive we had no setbelts.. This car has two front airbags and ABS, I’m a good safe and skilled driver so this suits me fine and I have used the extra dollar to invest on my business.. win win
    More and more traders and particulars on the road now and is scaring the competitors greed pockets.
    Do I support Australian jobs? Sure but the australian workers also work on the marketing, sale, service here in Australia and my savings was also invested back here, so just politics..
    Thanks

    August 21st, 2012 at 12:03 am

  2. esteel says:

    Australian manufactures have had to comply for a number of years to a great many restrictions that appear not to apply to imports of many things. There seems to be one strict rule for locals and another for imports,for example, tinned food from China to NZ that is re-labled for Aust so it avoids certain laws on importation . To me ,on the surface, it looks like goverment bodies are hell bent on destroying the very country that gives them a job . Is there an actual law that prohibits asbestos use, if there is, why is no action being taken. If an Australian company used this material would the ACCC say, no worries just put a sticker on it? I doubt it.

    August 25th, 2012 at 10:34 am

  3. wliao says:

    It takes time for the new comer becoming popular, people will discredit and spread the hostile remarks in the begining. It is the human nature. When Japanese vehicles came to Australia years ago, people here tried to discredit the vehicles too.
    Read my lips, The New Comer will survive.

    August 24th, 2012 at 5:21 pm

  4. jonsey says:

    isn’t this typical of the bueacrats, somebody has stuffed up yet again and let something into the country and now they are saying to hell with the australian health risks this may cause, so many times this goverment has been two faced about the harder isues and they will always offer a bandaid solution. I only hope that one day this discussion will come back and bite them on the bum big time and then and only then they might think of the health risk to others they are causing.

    August 25th, 2012 at 9:11 am

  5. jonsey says:

    so much for the chain of responisability we all should be working under

    August 25th, 2012 at 9:12 am

  6. Rob says:

    As another comment here suggest the ACCC seams to be toothless. If an Australian car maker did this that would be the end of them both from an expense to fix up the mistake and the bad publicity they would get. Yet an imported product is only required to have stickers on them?? I work on my own car, which is just over 4 years old and I for one know most of the stickers have faded and or fallen off under the bonnet.
    I don’t think this is a good solution. At least a permanent engraved plate must be fitted and as for the next service, what if its not serviced at a Great Wall/ Chery dealer??
    what about the corner service agent? will they still fit the stickers? I doubt it somehow.
    It should be a mandated nation wide recall to the nearest Great Wall/ Chery dealer ASAP its their stuff up they should fix it regardless if they are Chinese or Japanese made.

    August 25th, 2012 at 6:50 pm

  7. Rob Clark says:

    My son is a tradesman, he bought a Mazda BT50, but wishes he’d bought a Great Wall. The tradesmen he meets onsite who own Great Wall’s swear by them, and say they are the best vehicle they have ever bought. He did look at them before he made his purchase, and the only reason he didn’t buy at the time was because they were fairly new on the market, and unproven, to quote him. I think they are unbeatable value. My son will be changing his ute around the end of the financial year, and he will go for the Big Wall’
    Rob

    August 26th, 2012 at 4:35 am

  8. Mark says:

    This is a minor issue beaten up for the media’s benefit.
    gaskets are very stable and rarely disturbed and any VACC workshop will be red flagged when ever they log these models into into there data base so handling risks will be neligable to nill.
    Future imports will have compliant gaskets and I believe a statement of intent to replace exhaust manifold gaskets cyclicly under waranty has now been made..

    August 26th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

  9. JJ says:

    Asbestos is one of the biggest threats to life and takes decades to manifest. All of which is well known and why laws to ban it were introduced. These cars should be banned lives are at risk.

    August 26th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

  10. MN says:

    If there is any asbestos in these vehicles coming into Australia – it is a threat to all of us. We’ve got enough of the evil stuff without importing extra.
    Great Wall & Chery owners must be kidding themselves into somehow thinking that their lungs are vastly different to everyone else’s.
    Total recall required. Immediately.

    August 27th, 2012 at 9:15 pm

  11. Cardy says:

    Come on guys and girls, arnt we over reacting here? Im an old block who got powered with this stuff for years as a carpenter and I like many others are still here today quite healthy at 60. I think the government overstated the risks of asbestosis to the extreme in the first place.
    Definately many people exposed to asbestos did get sick and died but when you look at the many more who were exposed and survived, you might come up with a different view.
    I think the ACCC made the right choice and in some way fixed the knee jurk reation created by the government but then again a lot of you believe everything the government tells you.
    I also dont think anyone working on their Chinese car will contract asbestosis.
    cheers
    Cardy

    August 30th, 2012 at 2:52 pm

  12. D. Kolos says:

    When these Great Wall asbestos containing cars are recycled, who is going to remove the asbestos, or is it going to be mixed in with the waste products? And where will the asbestos be dumpted? Should it be returned to China? Are we now accepting Chinese social policy of disregard of the individual, for the ‘benefit’ of the majority? Disregard asbestosis in the individual, the majority benefits from the boost in exports!

    September 15th, 2012 at 2:04 pm