FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen Group is recalling about 2.6 million vehicles worldwide, including its biggest such move in China, to fix electronic and drive-system flaws.
Volkswagen is recommending that mineral oil be used in dual-clutch gearboxes on 1.6 million cars and vans in place of synthetic oil, Michael Franke, a spokesman at the company, said today. Another 800,000 Tiguan compact SUVs may have lighting defects and 239,000 Amarok pickups should be checked for fuel leaks, the automaker added today in two statements.
The recalls this month by Volkswagen as well as Chrysler Group, Toyota Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. highlight the drawbacks of adding increasingly sophisticated technology to new models. Nissan Motor Co. hired the senior auto reviewer for Consumer Reports magazine in the U.S. as its executive adviser on vehicle quality last year, citing the need to "keep pace with" product complexity.
"This isn't a VW-specific problem, it's one of the things that happen at mass-market carmakers," Frank Schwope, a Hanover, Germany-based analyst at Nord LB, said. "Costs will probably be in the high double-digit or even triple-digit million euro range. They might be partly shared with suppliers involved, but they still make VW's full-year earnings target more difficult to reach."
The lubricant replacement in seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes is intended to prevent electric malfunctions. The Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat brand vehicles are targeted by the program, Franke said. A Chinese regulator said today that 640,309 cars in that country are affected.
VW recalled 384,181 vehicles in China in March after state television featured complaints about vibrations, loss of power and sudden acceleration in models including the Golf, its best-selling car worldwide. That repair program, also involving dual-clutch gearbox flaws, prompted a public apology by Jochem Heizmann, chief of the carmaker's Chinese business, at the Shanghai auto show in April.
The repair and replacement programs announced by Volkswagen today compare with recalls of 10 million vehicles by Toyota in 2009 and 2010 for possible flaws related to unintended acceleration, including sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats that could shift out of position.
Toyota said on Nov. 6 that it's recalling 4,000 Tacoma 4-cylinder pickups in the United States to fix engine valve springs. It's also recalling 1,180 vehicles in China for a similar problem, that country's regulator said.
Chrysler said on Nov. 8 that it's recalling about 1.2 million Ram trucks to fix a steering-system part.
Mitsubishi's recall program involves a combined 96,800 vehicles in Japan for headline or engine-component flaws.
China, the world's largest auto market, is a critical market for VW's strategy to become the world's largest automaker by 2018 while making up for a European industry that's shrinking for a sixth straight year.
The gearbox-lubricant fault particularly affects vehicles driving in hot and humid weather in urban areas with a lot of stop-and-go traffic, Volkswagen said today.