Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, South Korea's leading two automotive companies, announced they will comply with a forced recall ordered by the government, the companies said Friday. Hyundai and Kia have been arguing the five flaws pose no safety risk, but they said in a joint statement that they will cede to the compulsory recall order.
Hyundai is one of the major shareholders in Kia Motors.
"Our first and foremost priority is the safety and peace of mind of our customers, and we will take all necessary measures to make sure any possible issues are quickly and safely rectified", the local company said. It is a blow to Hyundai, which is already reeling from a record-low market share in its home market.
The transport ministry asked the automakers to recall the faulty vehicles over eight of the 32 issues identified while offering free repairs on nine of the faults.
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Hyundai and Kia, while accepting the order, have claimed there were no case of injuries or accidents due to the said defects.
If the government decides to force a recall, Hyundai has 30 days to submit the recall plan. The regulators in April ordered the recall of total 250,000 vehicles to address five defects that could affect safety. The models affected include the Hyundai's Sonata midsize sedan, the i30 hatchback and, the luxury Genesis. But it appears inevitable that Hyundai and Kia's reputation for quality and their image overseas will be tarnished by the mandatory recall, which followed a whistleblower's testimony, and by the request for an investigation into allegations that the companies covered up defects. His information earlier led to a voluntary recall in Korea of some 171,000 vehicles equipped with the Theta II engine.
Noting that the company undertook a "feasibility study" to set up plant outside Korea, the release quoting KIA Motors CEO and President, Han-Woo Park said he expressed "regret" for not able to consider Tamil Nadu "due to business needs and requirements of the company".