After General Motors’ Tavera recall fiasco, the government is working on a mandatory recall policy for the automobile industry which among others would empower consumers to trigger a recall in case of a manufacturing defect.
Likely to be formulated next year, the government has asked India’s largest vehicle testing agency Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) in Pune to study various recall policies in the world and submit its suggestions. In countries like US and Germany, consumers can directly contact the testing agency through hotline or Internet and report problems in their vehicles. After investigations, the agency may force the manufacturer to recall the vehicle and also impose penalty.
At present, India does not have a mandatory recall policy and the government cannot force companies to recall vehicles in case of a defect. Last year, industry association Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers had introduced a voluntary code for recalls. Since then, more than 300,000 cars have been recalled in India.
“All developed countries have a mechanism to ensure recalls are carried out in a timely and efficient manner. However, we do not have any such policy here. The General Motors issue highlights that there is a need for government to step in,” said an official in the heavy industries ministry.
The US car major recalled 114,000 units of its utility vehicle Tavera earlier this year for an emission issue. Later it was revealed that some employees of the firm had conspired to fudge the mandatory tests and get the vehicle passed between 2005 and 2013. A government appointed panel had found the company guilty of corporate fraud.
Setting up an independent agency or arming ARAI with enough provisions, however, may stretch beyond 2 years.
“The mechanism necessitates infrastructure to identify the defects in vehicles running on road which means there must a group of experts involved in accident investigation and analysis to decide about the safety issues,” says an internal note from ARAI to the government in September.