While China is not typically viewed as a major exporter of automobiles, the truth is that the country has made tremendous strides in automotive manufacturing in just the past few years, especially in the manufacture of economy cars. Unfortunately, this quick progress has come with problems: a number of Chinese automobile brands have recently been criticized for poor quality and sub-par safety. Just last week, the public was made aware of a potential recall of up to 25,000 inexpensive cars made by Great Wall and Chery after components of their cars were determined to contain asbestos.
The cars, set to be sold in Australia had gaskets that were made with asbestos. Like many industrialized nations, Australia has laws against mining, manufacturing, importing, and exporting asbestos. While the two car companies originally denied the existence of the asbestos gaskets, they have both since haulted production of the cars in question and are looking into materials to replace the toxic gaskets.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently investigating the issue and is expected to make a decision whether to recall the cars within the week. The company responsible for the importation of both brands of cars, originally went on record stating that the asbestos gaskets posed only a “negligible” health risk for drivers and passengers of the vehicles. This statement, however, does not take into account the safety of mechanics who may be in direct contact with the parts.
In the past, asbestos was very commonly used in the manufacture of automobiles. In older cars, asbestos can be found not only in gaskets, but also in disc and drum brakes, clutch linings, and transmission plates. Asbestos, a toxic mineral that causes the fatal cancer known as mesothelioma, has since been banned by most countries.