Chinese product safety authorities have asked German automaker Daimler AG (FRA:DAI) to recall about 50,000 Smart minicars because a belt that powers the vehicle’s cooling fan and alternator could tear, causing the car to overheat and to lose electrical power.
The maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars confirmed to Reuters that China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine requested that Daimler issue the voluntary recall and that Daimler agreed to begin fixing the problem starting on Aug. 22. The affected model years were not disclosed.
China has been leaning on foreign automakers to roll back prices of auto parts and vehicles it says are artificially high. At least seven car companies have agreed to price reductions of as much as 20 percent. Last week, Chinese officials from the National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC), one of three agencies that have the power to investigate antitrust activities, searched Daimler’s Shanghai offices for evidence of price fixing.
Though it’s not clear if the order to recall the Smart cars is related to China’s larger push against foreign automakers, the country is treating the defect – where engine vibrations can cause the belt to snap – more seriously than in Europe, where the problem can be repaired during routine maintenance.
About 4,000 Smart cars are also being recalled in Japan for the same reason, Reuters reported.