Maruti Suzuki’s announcement on Tuesday that it is recalling five models, including the Brezza and the newly launched Grand Vitara, and Toyota Kirlokar Motor recalling units of the Urban Cruiser Hyryder, have pushed the total number of recalls in the industry this year to the third highest in five years.
According to the voluntary vehicle recall data provided by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), 206,238 cars, SUVs and two-wheelers have been recalled by their companies so far this year.
Last year saw a record-breaking 1.33 million units recalled by the automotive industry, beating the previous high of one million in 2015. The list does not include recalls of trucks, buses and three-wheelers.
The list for 2022, however, excludes the 9,125 and 994 units recalled by Maruti Suzuki and Toyota Kirloskar, respectively, on Tuesday, nor the 19,000-odd units of the XUV700 and Scorpio N recalled by Mahindra & Mahindra and more than 44,000 units of the Carens by Kia India. These push the total vehicle recalls this year to nearly 280,000.
While Maruti Suzuki and Toyota recalled the vehicles over a possible defect in the shoulder height adjuster assembly of front row seat belts, SUV specialist M&M issued a recall to inspect and replace a rubber bellow inside the bell housing. Kia India’s recall was to inspect potential error in the airbag control module. German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz, too, had recalled ML, GL and R-Class models over corrosion in the joint areas of the housing and possible airbag malfunction.
“Recalls are not a bad thing; after all it means that the OEM is keeping a watch on its models and taking proactive steps. It is better than forced recalls after a public outcry on social media, which then threatens to tarnish the brand image of the OEM,” said a Delhi-based car maker.
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Though India is the world’s fourth-largest automotive market, the country got its long delayed, government-defined recall policy only last April thanks to the steps taken by the ministry of road transport and highways.
According to the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 2021, manufacturers can face a penalty of up to ₹1 crore depending on the number of recalls. Till the end of FY21, manufacturers made voluntary recalls to replace defective parts, in line with SIAM’s voluntary recall policy. Sometimes, testing agencies like ARAI identified an issue, forcing the manufacturer to recall units.
Historically, recalls in India have been controlled by manufacturers themselves in the absence of any laws and therefore never attracted penalties. Compensation, if any, also was at the discretion of the manufacturer. Due to the absence of a law, the vehicle owner had little option beyond highlighting the issue on social media.