By Ben Klayman
DETROIT Feb 5 Aston Martin expanded a recall on
Wednesday to cover most of its sports cars built since late 2007
after discovering a Chinese sub-supplier was using counterfeit
plastic material in a part supplied to the British luxury sports
Owned by Kuwaiti and private equity investors, Aston Martin
said it would now recall 17,590 cars, including all of its
left-hand drive models built since November 2007 and all
right-hand drive models built since May 2012.
That affects about 75 percent of all vehicles built in that
period, a spokeswoman said. Its Vanquish model is not affected.
Aston Martin found that Shenzhen Kexiang Mould Tool Co
Limited, a Chinese subcontractor that moulds the affected
accelerator pedal arms, was using counterfeit DuPont plastic
material, according to documents filed with the U.S. National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The material was supplied by Synthetic Plastic Raw Material
Co Ltd of Dongguan, according to the documents.
The cars are being recalled from model years 2008 through
2014 because the accelerator pedal arm may break, increasing the
risk of a crash, according to the NHTSA documents. The engine
would return to idle and the driver would be unable to maintain
or increase speed, according to the documents.
Aston Martin spokeswoman Sarah Calam said there had been no
reports of accidents or injuries related to the issue and 22
failed parts had been reported. She said the financial impact to
the automaker was small, but did not quantify the total.
The cost of the recall is of great interest because Aston
Martin has struggled to fund the development of a range of new
vehicles while rivals like Bentley, owned by Volkswagen
, and Rolls Royce, owned by BMW, have the
ability to draw on the resources of their parent firms.
Aston Martin's owners include Italian private equity fund
Investindustrial, Kuwait-based Adeem Investment and Prime Wagon.
Germany's Daimler AG also has stake of less than
5 percent in the British automaker.
Of the Aston Martin cars affected in the recall, 7,271 are
in Europe and 5,001 in the United States, Calam said. The
company sells cars in 41 countries.
The latest recall replaces one announced last May and
expanded in October.
Because of the issue, Aston Martin is now being supplied
directly by a DuPont distributor.
Both Aston Martin and chemical company Dupont sent
people to China to directly supervise the production of all
pedal arms, including verifying each bag of DuPont plastic
material, Calam said.
The automaker plans to shift production of the pedal arms
from China to the United Kingdom "as soon as possible" in 2014,
Last May, Aston Martin initially recalled 2,832 cars
globally to replace the accelerator pedal arm after finding the
affected part included material that did not meet
specifications, Calam said.
After another arm broke that was not part of that group, the
company expanded the recall to 16,825 cars and required the use
of material made by DuPont.
When one of the replacement parts broke in December during
installation by a U.S. dealer in Connecticut, however, Aston
Martin froze the recall and found the counterfeit plastic
material was being used in place of the DuPont material, she
The recall includes all the cars previously repaired, Calam
said. Under the recall, Aston Martin will replace the
accelerator pedal assemblies.
The manufacturer of the throttle pedal assembly that
included the counterfeit material is Precision Varionic
International Limited, according to the NHTSA documents.
The company's quality director, John Penman, did not
immediately return calls and messages seeking comment.
It is not the first time DuPont has dealt with piracy in
relation to China.
U.S. prosecutors indicted a California businessman in 2011
with stealing DuPont trade secrets in order to sell them to a
Chinese company. That trial is ongoing.