Wang Fengying, president of Great Wall Motors, poses with Great Walls at a newly-opened company factory in Bulgaria earlier this year. Great Wall has entered the European and Australian car markets in the last few years. (Photo : Reuters)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced on Monday a recall of vehicles made by the Chinese brands Great Wall and Chery due to asbestos having been detected in certain vehicles.
The ACCC says that 23,000 cars are affected, and that the asbestos is located in the engine and exhaust gaskets. Consumers are not at risk when using the vehicles, but are discouraged from working on them themselves.
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The recall is the result of an investigation that began when officers from Australia's Customs and Border Protection detected asbestos in imported spare parts.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said in a statement, "Asbestos is a prohibited hazardous substance and these engines and exhaust systems should only be worked on by qualified personnel using appropriate safety procedures."
Ateco Automotive, the company that supplies the brands to the Australian market, has put a "stop sale" order on all affected vehicles, recalled gaskets sold as spare parts, and ensured all cars and gaskets are free of asbestos, among other measures.
"All affected consumers will be contacted directly by Great Wall and Chery. In addition, they will provide training, warning stickers and safety advice to repairers. The ACCC will monitor the recall and Workplace Health and Safety Authorities will monitor the workplace safety issues," Rickard said.
Importation or use of asbestos has been illegal d in Australia since 2004, but the ACCC warns that many cars made before that year have asbestos in their parts.
Great Wall Motors was founded in 1976 and for most of its history has been a maker of pickup trucks. It has only begun producing cars in recent years. It entered the EU market in 2006 and the Australian market in 2009.
Chery is a state-owned brand founded in 1997 that produces cars, SUVs, and minivans.