BEIJING, China – Volkswagen AG announced a recall Wednesday of more than 384,000 vehicles in China to fix gearboxes following a report last week by state TV that criticized the quality of the German automaker’s cars.
Volkswagen said that problems with direct-shift gearboxes might cause a power interruption, but it said drivers could remain in control and manoeuvr to a stop. The company said it would repair gearboxes and install the latest software upgrades at no cost to owners. Many systems in modern cars are controlled electronically.
The recall applies to vehicles imported or manufactured in China between December 2008 and this month, the government’s product quality agency said in a separate statement. It said that would include models such as the Sirocco, Golf Wagon, Jetta, Magotan, Touran and Passat.
Similar models sold elsewhere in the world, including the U.S. and Europe, are not affected, VW spokesman Scott Vazin said in an email. Only Volkswagens in China and Southeast Asia with hot, humid climates are affected, he wrote.
A broadcast Friday by Chinese state television to mark World Consumer Rights Day accused Volkswagen of selling cars with substandard gearbox systems, causing unspecified problems for some drivers.
The recall comes at a time of widespread anxiety in China over product safety following a series of scandals over fake or tainted food, milk powder, medicines and other goods.
China is Volkswagen’s biggest market and strong sales have helped to buoy the German company’s finances against weaker performance in other global markets.
Volkswagen sold 2.8 million vehicles in China last year for a 14 per cent share of the market, according to LMC Automotive, a research firm.
Foreign makers of autos, processed food and other products often are regarded in China as more reliable than domestic brands but any quality problems are widely publicized by state media.
Yum Brands Inc., the owner of KFC and Taco Bell, said sales at its 5,300 outlets in China in January and February tumbled 20 per cent following a food scare over its chicken suppliers.