GWM South Africa has reassured its local customers that there is no immediate cause for alarm following the discovery of asbestos in gaskets of certain vehicles in Australia.
Tony Pinfold, chairperson 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 said.
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 revealed that Great Wall Motors in China had since ceased using the supplier of the gaskets and recalled all the parts in question, whilst GWM South Africa was 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.
Pinfold adds: "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."
On Wednesday, some 23 000 Chinese-made cars were recalled in Australia after asbestos was found in their engines.