The vehicles have engine and exhaust gaskets that contain asbestos, a known carcinogen that is prohibited in Australia. Both manufacturers have been directed to stop selling the affected vehicles, and owners have been warned not to perform any do-it-yourself repairs that involve the problem gaskets.
The recall raises questions about Chinese automakers plans to increase exports, not only to Australia but Europe and potentially even the United States. Yet a spokesman for Great Wall told Bloomberg that the recall "won't have much impact on our export and overseas expansion plans."
How the asbestos-containing parts came to be used in the Australian cars is unclear, but a Chery spokesman told the news agency that the automaker made a mistake, building the cars with a batch of parts that were not intended for use in export cars. But an Australian public affairs official indicated that the recall affects a majority of the vehicles the two Chinese automakers have imported.
Great Wall began exporting vehicles to Australia in 2009 and Chery followed in 2011, according to the report. Combined, they sold just over 17,000 vehicles in Australia between 2010-2011. Models affected by the recall include the Great Wall SA220, V240, X240, V200 and X200 (pictured), as well as the Chery J11 and J3.