GWM SA Comments on ASBESTOS ALLEGATION
Yesterday (15 August 2012) a story was broken in Australia regarding asbestos parts fitted to GWM units sold there. Over 20 thousand units were affected, despite asbestos being an illegal substance there since 2004. Australian drivers were angered at the fact that the company was merely fined, and not forced to replace the parts in question. You can read more about their issues here.
Understandably, we received letters and a comment on our Facebook page, from readers concerned about the GWM units sold locally.
We contacted GWM SA about the matter, and they got back to us within half an hour. Below is there unedited response:
GWM SOUTH AFRICA REASSURES CUSTOMERS
Following the discovery of asbestos in gaskets of selected vehicles by GWM and another brand in Australia, GWM South Africa wishes to reassure its local customers that there is no immediate cause for alarm.
Tony Pinfold, Chairman of GWM South Africa, says that the safety of GWM customers has and always will be of immense importance to the manufacturer.
“Rest assured that a thorough investigation has been undertaken into the matter of the asbestos found in the gaskets of some of our vehicles in Australia. As the amount of asbestos in these gaskets is negligible, it poses no direct threat to the drivers or passengers of the affected GWM vehicles,” Pinfold explains.
An assessment done by occupational health and safety consultants Hibbs and Associates in Australia concluded that there were negligible health risks for drivers, passengers and mechanics working on the vehicles. The report states: “Even if carried out in an uncontrolled way, handling and removing these gaskets constitutes a very low asbestos related health risk.”
In addition, an alert on the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) website indicates: “The gaskets are tightly embedded in the vehicle and present no hazard during normal operation of the vehicle. Caution must be taken if carrying out maintenance and a special repair guide needs to be followed for the repair.”
Pinfold emphasises that Great Wall Motors in China has ceased using the supplier of the gaskets and has recalled all the parts in question, whilst GWM South Africa is currently sourcing alternative replacement parts. “Not all GWM vehicles contain these gaskets, which mainly appear in older models. As an extra precautionary measure, they will be replaced free of charge at the customer’s next service at an approved GWM service centre.”
Locally, only selected older GWM pick-up and SUV models are affected, such as the older 2.2, 2.8 TCI and 2.5 TCI pick-ups and the older SUVs with 4G64 and 4G69 engines.
Tony Pinfold concludes: “GWM South Africa remains committed to operating with integrity and accountability. We can assure all our customers that measures have been put in place both globally and locally to avoid a repeat of this issue.”