Monday, August 3, 2009

SA Regulatory body cracks whip on Chinese vehicle importer

Department of Trade and Industry agency, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), on Friday ordered selective GoNow X-Space single and double cab bakkies, as well as Hafei Loda vehicles to be returned to the Chinese importer's dealers, as their rear fog lamps, fuel inlets and mirror indicators did not comply with regulations.

“We are requesting all consumers in possession of these vehicles to visit any dealership close to them to have their vehicles modified. This in the interest of their safety,” said NRCS acting CEO Moses Moeletsi.

According to South African specifications, the rear fog lamp could be located in the centre, or on the right, but not on the left-hand side, as was currently the case, he explained.

Also, the mirror indicators to now be found on the vehicles had never been present on the vehicles presented for homologation to the NRCS – or, compliance to the regulations. The fuel filler inlet on the petrol tank was also of the wrong diameter, and could allow diesel to be put into the vehicles.

“You can argue that these are small matters and that they do not pose a direct threat to consumers' safety, but deviations are not allowed. These are the South African specifications and they must be adhered to,” said Moeletsi.

He emphasised that modifications were not allowed to vehicles without approval by the regulator.

“It is time we as a regulator crack the whip on this. The regulator is sending a message to the automotive industry. In the past you modified vehicles without coming to us, this must stop now.”

Moeletsi said the regulator had already engaged GoNow on the situation, but noted that the company's failure to respond adequately had forced its hand.

He said should GoNow fail to take corrective action, all the vehicles in question would be returned to China.

Around 250 vehicles were affected.

It would also be possible for the Department of Transport not to register the vehicles in question for use on South African roads, or for the NRCS to halt the trading of these vehicles.

Moeletsi said the NRCS had become aware of GoNow's contravention of the regulations through a process of routine checks, and not through a tip-off from a competing company.

The NRCS was established in September last year to “administer compulsory specifications and other technical regulations with the view to protect human health, safety and the environment”. This incuded the automotive industry.

Moeletsi said around 80% of vehicles in South Africa met the compulsory specifications.

GoNow Auto South Africa failed to comment, despite several requests by Engineering News Online.