Top car makers probe allegations by Chinese consumer programme

Joseph Millis
Jaguar Land Rover has been criticised for its handling of gearbox problems in China
CAR MAKERS, including Volkswagen, Nissan Motor and Mercedes Benz, said they were probing allegations aired late on Sunday by Chinese state TV that the firms oversold repairs and spare parts to drivers.

The annual consumer rights day investigative special, similar to BBC One’s Watchdog programme, also criticised Jaguar Land Rover for gearbox problems in some cars.

China is the world’s top car market, and media criticism can dent reputations and drag on sales. iPhone maker Apple made a rare apology in 2013 after criticism on the show of its after-sales service.

Mercedes and Jaguar Land Rover are already being probed by China for possible anti-competitive behaviour. The Chinese venture of German car maker Volkswagen was fined last year for price-fixing.

Volkswagen, a target two years ago of the China Central Television (CCTV) show, was also criticised in an article ahead of the programme for its handling of a recall of its Sagitar model car.

“We have paid close attention to CCTV reporting … and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers,” said Volkswagen China spokeswoman Larissa Braun.

Nissan’s China joint venture said it would set up a team to investigate the allegations and strengthen regul­ation of its service teams, according to a statement on its official microblog. Mercedes Benz said it would launch a probe and urged dealers to change their behav­iour. Land Rover apologised to its custom­ers on its official microblog and said it was working to resolve the issue.