Hangzhou Zhongce: US Tyre Recall is ‘Commercial Manipulation’
Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Company has countered claims that some of its tyres are defective and suggested that a NHSTA recall report filed by US company, Foreign Tire Sales Inc (FTS) amounts to “commercial manipulation and sensationalization.” In an official statement, Hangzhou Zhongce contested FTS’ $80 million legal claim, saying it: “retains recourse rights against FTS for the loss [it]…has sustained.”
In the statement, Hangzhou Zhongce explains that it has adopted “strict quality control and test procedures” and strives make sure products are manufactured “in accordance with the relevant requirements.” All the tyres in question have passed United States National Standards. “So far we have not detected any defective problem. We believe our product has no quality problem,” the company continued.
In order to further its defence, Hangzhou Zhongce has hired China Beijing Guantao Law Firm and Hogan Hartson LLP, a US law firm. Hangzhou Zhongce says this is to represent the company in its disputes with FTS and to handle what it characterises as a “reporting issue” filed by FTS to NHTSA.
4×4 not light truck sizes
Details of exactly which patterns and sizes are included in the US recall still remain unclear, but Eskay Tyres Ltd general manager, Rob Henderson, explained that while the products are referred to as light truck in the US, they would be called 4×4 across Europe. In an official statement on the subject, Henderson spoke of Eskay (the European Westlake importer’s) shock to hear of the allegations:
“We wish to inform all our customers we have distributed approximately 6 million Westlake PCR and Truck tyres across Europe over the last 5 years. The whole range of tyres has achieved the ECE type approval and bears the appropriate E mark.
“We employ full technical support, based in Europe, to ensure that all products give 100 per cent service in the market. We can confirm that, to date, we have not seen one single incident of belt separation in any tyres, including the sizes mentioned in the report filed by FTS in the USA, which are 4X4, specifically designed for that market, and not to be confused with the Westlake light truck radial range distributed in Europe.
“We should point out that the growing success of the Westlake brand has been mainly due to the high quality of the products and their excellent service performance.
“Eskay take full responsibility for their distribution in Europe very seriously, and the welfare of their customers. We have total confidence in the Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Company, the manufacturers of Westlake. We have always worked very closely together and we give them our total support.”
“Our market is Europe, and we will respectfully leave this issue to be settled between Hangzhou Zhongce and FTS in the USA,” he concluded.
Tyres & Accessories’ US editorial partner, Tire Review, described Foreign Tire as a closely held company with fewer than 10 employees. It began importing tyres from Hangzhou Zhongce in 2001, relying on the Chinese company to ensure that the tyres met US safety standards. According to the company, since its foundation it has continually focused on product quality control. Hangzhou Zhongce is currently the second largest Chinese tyre producer and was established in 1958.
Meanwhile, financial analysts have suggested that the US recall could “make retailers think twice about reliance on low cost imports for branded and private label tyre production.” The Deutsche Bank analysts reported that they believe this could result in a “modest positive development for more established US and European tyre manufacturers, many of which have difficulty competing at the lower end of the market.”