China's latest export: Cars with asbestos parts

In a file picture taken on December 7, 2007 Chinese automotive workers prepare a Chery car for painting at their factory in Wuhu, Anhui Province.

Jeremy Hobson: Australia is forcing two of China's largest carmakers to recall their vehicles. That's after it was discovered that the two companies were selling thousands of cars with parts made from the cancer-causing fiber asbestos.

The recall could threaten the carmakers' plans to expand into the U.S. market, as our China bureau chief Rob Schmitz reports.


Rob Schmitz: Great Wall and Chery are China’s two biggest car exporters.

Asia-based auto industry expert Michael Dunne says the two saw the Australian market as a testing ground for larger markets.

Michael Dunne: If we can do Australia and do it well, why not America?

Dunne says the two automakers were poised to start selling cars in the U.S. within three years. How about now?

Michael Dunne: Now? You can count at least a penalty of at least... well, forget America for now. Not going to happen. They’ve got to get this right and then win back the customers of Australia before they even think about going to America.

Most developed countries banned the use of asbestos decades ago. Automaker Chery said it mistakenly used a wrong batch of parts for Australia meant for cars sold in China, a place where making cars out of asbestos parts is perfectly legal.

 In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...