New Delhi: General Motors India Pvt. Ltd has asked its dealers to stop selling the diesel variants of its newly launched Sail sedan and the Sail U-VA hatchback, suspecting problems with the 1.3 litre diesel engine used in these cars, according to two dealers.

The company has also asked dealers to stop sales of the BS III variant of its Tavera model, although the multi-purpose vehicle hasn’t faced problems, the dealers said, speaking on condition of anonymity. BS III is an emission standard.

The move may trigger a product recall of all diesel models of the Sail and Sail U-VA manufactured over a certain period.

As per a voluntary recall policy adopted by the Indian auto industry in July last year, companies need to inform industry lobby Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, or Siam, the government and customers about any fault in its products, which may require a recall.

The industry had recommended that the government take action if members failed to declare any defects or faults in their vehicles.

GM India did not say if a recall of the cars was likely.

P. Balendran, vice-president at the company, only said, “We will come back to you with an update after thorough investigation in the coming days."

The Indian subsidiary of the US carmaker has never exercised a product recall in the country since it was established in 1995.

GM India launched the Sail U-VA hatchback in November and the sedan version in February.

The hatchback competes with Maruti Suzuki India Ltd’s Swift and Hyundai Motor India Ltd’s i20, and the sedan with Maruti’s Dzire, Hyundai’s Verna and Volkswagen India Pvt. Ltd’s Vento.

“While there have been issues with diesel variants of Sail and Sail U-VA’s engine, Tavera doesn’t have any problem," said one of the two dealers mentioned above. “Yet, Tavera’s sales have been stopped on a precautionary note."

Balendran said the company stopped production of Sail sedan and Sail U-VA on 5 June and that of Tavera on 6 June.

“As part of General Motors’ stringent manufacturing and quality control processes, we have identified a potential emissions performance issue with the Chevrolet Tavera BS-III and a quality issue with the Chevrolet Sail HB (hatchback) and NB (notchback or sedan) Diesel variant. Neither issue is safety-related." said Balendran in an email reply.

Balendran said he could not rule out the possibility of delays in delivering the cars to customers. “We are working hard to resolve these issues as quickly as possible," he said in the email.

The Tavera BS-IV and petrol versions of the Sail sedan and hatchback models are unaffected and production of these vehicles is continuing, he said.

GM India’s other multi-purpose vehicle, Enjoy, too has not faced any problem although it uses the same engine, said the second dealer mentioned earlier.

Ever since the auto industry in India adopted the recall policy, there have been as many as seven recalls from companies including Renault India Pvt. Ltd, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd, Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd and Ford India Pvt. Ltd. At least 150,000 cars and 11,500 bikes have been recalled since July last year, the Economic Times newspaper reported on 31 May.

Sugato Sen, deputy director general, Siam, hailed auto firms’ decisions to proactively announce auto recall.

“We adopted a voluntary code of recall last year and the proactive steps taken by various companies show that it has been a success," Sen said. “Such steps make the industry credible and enthuse confidence in the customers."

To be sure, cost incurred during replacing faulty parts during a product recall is not significant. Also, with auto recalls becoming voluntary, the impact on a company’s brand is minimal.

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