Asbestos find forces recall of Great Wall and Chery cars in Australia
CANBERRA Aug 15 (Reuters) - An Australian importer has recalled 23,000 cars made by China's Great Wall Motor Co Ltd and Chery Automobile Co after deadly asbestos fibres were found in engines and exhaust gaskets, Australia's consumer watchdog said on Wednesday.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it was monitoring the recall and had asked the importer, Ateco Automotive, to replace affected components in the cars. Dealers were also asked to stop selling the affected cars.
Asbestos is a prohibited hazardous substance in Australia, which has banned the importation or use of it since 2004.
Both Great Wall and Chery are leading indigenous carmakers in China and sell budget cars in the Australian market.
A safety investigation into the pair's products was sparked after Australian Customs and Border Protection officers detected asbestos in imported spare parts.
A spokesman for Ateco said the company was disappointed with the finding and had been assured by Great Wall and Chery that production had been halted and measures put in place to fix the problem.
"We do have a letter of apology from the most senior levels of Great Wall management," the spokesman said.
Both Great Wall and Chery are trying to expand their operations outside of China to raise sales and enhance their brand images.
Great Wall earlier this year signed a contract with privately held CODA Automotive in the United States to develop, build and sell an entry-level electric vehicle for the North American, Chinese and European auto markets.
Great Wall has also targeted Europe, opening its first European factory in February as part of its strategy to lift sales in the region.
Chery, which acquired Volvo in 2009, has also said it is looking to export made-in-China cars to Western Europe.
(Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Matt Driskill)
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