Toyota Recalls More Than 100 Cars in Cambodia

Toyota has recalled more than 100 of its vehicles in Cambodia as part of the Japanese manufacturer’s global recall of 6.4 million cars due to a range of technical problems. But car dealers said that slack regulations on cars entering the country will hamper efforts to keep unsafe cars off the road.

Toyota (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. general manager Ly Bunhay said that since Toyota announced on April 9 that millions of its cars would be recalled to address possible problems with airbags, steering and seats, the local subsidiary has recalled more than 100 cars.

A manager in Toyota’s customer service office said the main model being recalled is the Toyota Hilux pickup truck from 2006.

But knowing exactly how many faulty Toyotas are on the street remains a problem due to Cambodia’s gray market, in which the vast majority of cars are imported through unofficial channels.

“It’s very difficult to trace cars here in Cambodia for any brand because official numbers on new and used cars is unclear…so it’s hard to determine what is faulty,” said Mr. Bunhay.

He added that Toyota occupies 70 percent of the light vehicle market in Cambodia but that only around 10 percent of those cars are bought from a dealer.

Pily Wong, vice president of the Cambodia Automotive Industry Federation, said Cambodia’s regulations on car imports are some of the loosest in Asia.

“Anyone can bring a car into the country as long as it’s not older than eight years and has left-hand steering,” he said.

“Cambodia is with Burma as the least regulated car market in Asean.”

Mr. Wong said many of the cars entering the country come from the U.S. and Middle East and are thus not fit to be driven in Cambodia’s climate and road conditions.

“Since the official distributor doesn’t know those cars are here, no action is taken to fix those problems, so it is endangering many people on the streets and on the road.”

However, Preap Chan Vibol, director of land transport department at the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, said the government checks all cars before they are registered and given a number plate.

“Checks are conducted to ensure the machine works well, including checking the brakes and gauges. If they do not properly work, they will be sent to the garages,” he said.

But he added that the country needs to establish a road safety law along with clear technical standards that are upheld by skilled assessors who can identify the roadworthiness of cars.

“We do not have detailed safety regulations yet and also have no technical committee to oversee the technicality of the cars. We need training and expertise in such technicality,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Van Roeun)

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