The domestic automotive industry on Monday adopted a voluntary code for recalling vehicles that have been detected with defects, a first in India. But without any form of penalty it may not end up benefiting the consumers.
Unlike in the US, India does not have a mandatory policy for car recalls.
Ironically, the code of conduct that is formulated by industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) based on a consensus among all vehicle manufacturers, puts the onus of detection of malfunction, notification and the subsequent recall at the manufacturer’s discretion, who have been traditionally shy of any recalls so far."This policy is a consensus of all the members and is yet another initiative towards our commitment to growth with responsibility," said S Sandilya, president, SIAM. "Recall is considered a bad word in India and that has to change."
Under the policy, which is applicable from two-wheelers to commercial vehicles, if a company is of the opinion that there is a manufacturing defect that compromises safety of vehicles, it will voluntarily rectify the problem free of cost to the customer. Only vehicles within seven years of manufacture would be covered under the safety recall.
Companies are also required to post information regarding recall on their websites.
It has also left it to individual members to decide on the minimum number of vehicles affected to constitute a recall and also whether to announce such an exercise or not. SIAM was also defensive on supporting any move to bring in a mandatory policy by the government that penalises manufacturers for non compliance.
“While we have nothing against a mandatory recall policy if the government decides to put one, we will definitely assess if there is a need for it. For a manufacturer, the cost of a recall is a good enough penalty while those who don’t adhere to it, the loss of reputation would be very damaging,” Sandilya added.
In India, manufacturers have from time to time replaced and repaired vehicles that suffered from manufacturing defects but have been reluctant to call it a recall. Consumers can expect no respite unless govt forces a mandatory recall policy with the necessary checks and balances on the industry. Already the government is not impressed with the policy.
“Unless there is a penalty, there would be no motivation for a manufacturer to recall cars,” said a senior government official. “This policy merely upholds status quo. It does not change anything from what the companies have already been doing.”