TV exposes faulty VW SUVs and dodgy pipes

Substandard autos and white lines on city streets that pose potential traffic safety hazards were among cases exposed on China Central Television's quality investigation program.

Substandard autos and white lines on city streets that pose potential traffic safety hazards were among cases exposed on China Central Television’s quality investigation program last night.

The two-hour-long TV show is broadcast every March 15 — World Consumer Rights Day.

The German automaker Volkswagen was accused of having defective drain valves in its imported Touareg sport-utility vehicles.

The VW model’s drain valves do not allow water to drain properly, which may result in water flowing into the engine, causing possible safety risks, the program said. 

A customer, surnamed Huang who lives in Fujian Province, paid 620,000 yuan (US$98,100) for a 2017 Touareg vehicle, but after seven months, she was unable to start it and there was a strange noise in the engine. 

She was told by staff at the dealership that there was water in the engine, causing the problem.

The program said four other Touareg owners reported the same problem. 

A document, provided by a Volkswagen 4S outlet, showed that due to a restriction of the headlight outline, water could flow into the vehicle’s air intake pipe. CCTV said: “Date of the document was July 28, 2017, which meant Volkswagen knew about the root cause of the problem in the very beginning.”

After the program aired, Volkswagen apologized and pledged to resolve the problem. “We fully realize that there are still many deficiencies during the handling process of customer requests,” the automaker said last night.

The company will recall 33,142 Touareg imported cars manufactured between December 2014 and November 2017, according to the statement on the website of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. The recall will start on April 30.

China is Volkswagen’s key market globally, with sales in the country hitting a record high of 3.18 million vehicles in 2017, up 5.9 percent year on year.

The TV program also exposed a number of drainage and water supply pipe suppliers for poor-quality issues.

The suppliers used overseas waste materials such as recyclable plastics to produce pipes for municipal work, thereby saving a third of what it would cost to make pipes that are up to China’s national standard.

Substandard pipes are prone to leakage, as well as being easily broken because their weight resistance is just half that of pipes made to recommended standards, CCTV reported.

The pipe producers used various means to avoid detection, such as marking the national standard on the pipes, according to the report, which named Henan Zhongyi Building Materials Technology Co, Luoyang Jiutong Pipe Co, Jiangyin Tongshun Co, and Jiangyin Dayin Plastics Co as offenders.

In another case, CCTV reported that the reflector effect of white traffic lines on some arterial roads and expressways posed safety concerns. 

The reflector effect is particularly important for drivers at night or on rainy days, CCTV said. 

Producers including Wuhan Xinjincheng Chemical Industry Co and Wuhan Sifangda Traffic Project Co were found to use less than 10 percent of glass beads in the lines instead of 18 to 25 percent required by the national standard. 

In addition, several food and drink producers, such as Zaozhuang Chukang Food Co and Zaozhuang Jinshunyuan Food Co, were found to produce drinks under false branding.

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