Aston Martin recall highlights risk of China parts supply

Feb 11 2014, 20:26 IST
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The British maker of the exotic sports cars featured in a string of James Bond spy movies. Reuters The British maker of the exotic sports cars featured in a string of James Bond spy movies. Reuters
SummaryThe British maker of the exotic sports cars featured in a string of James Bond spy movies...

and its implications for other carmakers.

Germany's Daimler AG, which holds a minority stake in Aston Martin and operates several joint ventures with Renault-Nissan, said it was not affected by the Aston Martin recall and does not share the British company's Chinese suppliers of accelerator pedals.

Jaguar Land Rover Ltd in the UK said it had "never used" Aston Martin's Chinese suppliers. Now owned by India's Tata Group, JLR was part of Ford Motor Co's Premier Automotive Group, along with Aston Martin. Ford sold Aston Martin in 2007 and JLR in 2008.

Even Chinese-owned Covpress, a U.K.-based supplier of pedal assemblies and other parts to automakers including General Motors Co, Renault and Jaguar Land Rover, said it avoids manufacturing in China altogether to "allay fears" about supply chain security.

"We buy the tooling to make things over there, but that's it - we don't actually make anything over there," Chief Executive Officer Kit Halliday told Reuters. "There is no product that we have in the U.K. that we would consider making in China."

According to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Aston Martin found that Shenzhen Kexiang Mould Tool Co Ltd, a southern China-based subcontractor that moulds the affected accelerator pedal arms, was using counterfeit DuPont plastic material. The material was supplied by another southern China-based firm, Synthetic Plastic Raw Material Co Ltd of Dongguan, according to the documents.

Kexiang was contracted to mould accelerator pedal arms by a Hong Kong company, Fast Forward Tooling, which in turn was contracted by a U.K.-based manufacturer, Precision Varionic International, according to Aston Martin documents filed with NHTSA.

COUNTERFEIT PROTECTION

Plastics supplier DuPont said it is working with Aston Martin to help ensure the material used to manufacture the pedals is genuine DuPont product.

"The best protection that customers and end-users have against counterfeit products and the potential consequences of their use in highly engineered systems is to ensure that they and their supply chains buy only from DuPont and their authorized distributors," it said in a statement.

A Precision Varionic official, Ursula Aldridge, said PVI had no comment. Quality management chief John Penman and manufacturing and purchasing director Roger Osborn did not respond to requests for comment.

Calls to the listed number for Kexiang's small factory in Shenzhen went unanswered. People seen inside the factory during a recent visit by Reuters declined to answer questions.

Zhang Ronghui, a Kexiang factory manager absent from the site but contacted by Reuters

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