By Shannon Najmabadi
Image via: Car News China.
A report by CCTV found that the owners of some domestically manufactured luxury cars experienced “unusual smells and complained of health problems,” according to the Shanghai Daily.
These side effects belied a more sinister problem-CCTVs report found that the interior of such cars may contain toxic chemicals.
A test conducted by Beijing University of Chemical Technology found asphalt in six damping plate samples taken from Audi’s A6 and Q5 models (so beloved by government officials), Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class, and BMW 3-Series and 5-Series. The six cars in question were made in China in the past three years.
“The makers were using asphalt materials, which could release toxic chemicals into the air at high temperatures, instead of more environmentally-friendly but costlier resins or rubber,” the report said.
The monetary incentive for using asphalt damping plates is significant. Based on the about 650,000 domestically-produced cars sold in China last year, the three automakers could save 97 million yuan ($15.6 million) to 130 million yuan in China per year, according to CCTV.
While the concerned automaker companies have been receptive to looking into and mitigating potential health hazards associated with their vehicles, this is not the first time China-made cars have been accused of causing cancer.
Last August, Australia recalled approximately 23,000 cars exported by Chinese automakers Great Wall Motor Co. and Chery Automobile Co. after finding asbestos in some models, according to Bloomberg. Asbestos, a carcinogenic fiber sometimes found in asphalt, has been linked to cancer and respiratory illness and is banned in 55 countries, including Australia.
During coverage of the August recall, the Wall Street Journal perceptively observed that the discovery of the asbestos would set back “a Chinese auto industry eager to sell cars in developed markets.”
Whether the presence of these carcinogenic materials is a cost-cutting strategy or a glaring oversight, there discovery further discredits the “made in China” label that some Westerners have come to distrust.
With these most recent allegations that China-made cars cause cancer, it might be wise for Chinese automakers to ensure that health and safety are prioritised over costs of production in the future [Ed.: Ha!].