Recalls for imported cars have increased over twofold compared to last year. While their high fuel economy and price competence gained by the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are setting a new sales record every year, the recall figures are leading to indications that they are rather negligent in terms of quality control.
According to the statistics shown on Dec. 17 by the vehicle defect report center of the Korea Transportation Safety Authority, the number of import cars recalled was 114,210 of 295 car models, which shows 104 percent from last year’s 55,853 of 162 car models. As 179,239 import cars were sold as of last month, the present year recalls reach about two-thirds of the total sales volume.
In contrast, there were 981,298 domestic cars recalled, which indicates a decrease to 53 percent of last year’s 981,298. As a result, the import car portion of the total cars recalled sharply increased from 5 to 18 percent.
Regarding the details categorized by brand (excluding two wheeled rides and trucks), top-selling import car brand BMW showed the highest figure of 21,401, followed by Toyota (including Lexus) close behind with 19,652, Ford (15,493), Audi (14,731), and Mercedes-Benz (12,414).
However, when correlation between sales volume and recall count is put into consideration, Toyota showed the highest recall rate. This is because while BMW sold 37,098 up to late November, Toyota sold only 11,690. Ford as well sold only 8,058 this year, which makes their recall twice the amount of their sales. This implicates the reason for the recent rise in consumer dissatisfaction along with sales of import cars.
In light of the situation, the government is making demands to strengthen the quality control of import cars including the implementation of disclosing the compartment price of import cars. But the response from import car brands was but lukewarm. While BMW Korea showed a relatively cooperative posture by translating their component names into Korean and adding a feature for inquiry into compartment catalogs, most import car brands are merely showing just formal responses, with their compartment names still only available in English and the exact name and code of specific compartments required for their search.