A Chinese government official, who was involved in a recent car accident, has accused Kumho Tires of turning cars into "killing machines".
Facing the criticism, the company Sunday told the Global Times that they will do all they can to cooperate with the transportation authorities in the investigation, adding that it is too early to blame the company since a thorough accident report is not available yet.
"Having suffered a bone fracture, I really hope normal cars will not turn into killing machines suddenly because of tire problems," Jia Kang, director of the Institute of Research at the Ministry of Finance, wrote on his Sina microblog Sunday.
Jia and his family had a car accident on an express highway between Shandong and Hebei provinces on Thursday afternoon in his Hawtai SUV running at the speed of 140 kilometers per hour at the time.
"Suddenly my car lost control. I heard a blast of sound from the left rear, and then we hit guard bars on the road," wrote Jia. He said his insurance company told him that the accident occurred because two tires on his car blew out. Fortunately, no one was killed or suffered any life-threatening injuries.
Jia is now calling for relevant departments to reinforce tire quality supervision, investigation and punishment.
"We’re still waiting for the accident investigation report from the transportation authorities, who have not contacted us so far," Pan Shaowei, marketing manager of Kumho Tires Co China, told the Global Times Sunday, adding that normally a complete accident assessment report on tires takes one month.
Pan said it was also possible that the tire rupture could have occured after the accident, so it is too early to say whether Kumho tires have quality problems.
Kumho Tires has been under the media spotlight over quality concerns since March 15, when China Central Television (CCTV) revealed shoddy production processes at the company, which was found to be using excess amounts of recycled rubber that could lead to safety problems.
One week later, Kumho Tires President Kim Jong-ho apologized to Chinese consumers through CCTV, and announced a recall plan.
In April, China’s product quality watchdog said that due to faulty Kumho tires three Chinese car producers would recall about 75,000 cars.
"We’ve strengthened our tire quality checking process since the recall," said Pan.
According to the South Korean company, Kumho is now one of the largest tire manufacturers in China. It produces 30 million tires annually in its China factories. The company says it expects its market share in China to expand to 28 percent by the end of 2014.
The company serves as an equipment provider for major vehicle manufacturers including Chrysler, General Motors, and Volkswagen.