SIAM initiative to foster recall of unsafe defective vehicles

Harried Indian car buyers stuck with defective vehicles may become fewer in the years ahead, thanks to an initiative by automobile industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers' (SIAM).

Automobile industry body, SIAM has announced a voluntary 'Recall Policy' which would require all companies to follow standard procedures on detection of manufacturing defects in their products.

Under the new policy, all manufacturers of vehicles-from two-wheeler makers to commercial vehicles and even companies that import vehicles-would be required to voluntarily rectify, free of cost, any technical problem that compromised user safety.

Vehicles up to seven years from the date of manufacture would be covered under the safety recall and companies would be required to post notifications on their websites and publicise the same through other media.

SIAM president S Sandilya told reporters in Delhi yesterday, "The policy is a consensus of all the members and is another initiative towards our commitment to automotive quality and responsibility. All companies based in India will adhere to it voluntarily to rectify defects and secure their own brand image."

While the government is still working on a law that would make recalls mandatory and also provide for penalties if companies failed to notify about generic safety defects, Siam feels that the voluntary code would suffice to cover such instances. "We believe that voluntary (code) is responsible and good enough," Sandilya said in response to a question as to whether a mandatory government-backed policy would be more effective.

Recalls, considered part of corporate ethics in the west, are seen more as 'bad publicity' by Indian companies.

Many companies, in the past, have passed them on as "vehicle upgrades" and insisted that "it is not a recall." Siam claims, that implementation of its code would ensure that such cases would not happen but given there was no mechanism to ensure effective checks on companies, doubts about effective implementation remain.