Exclusive: China Problems Force Aston Martin Into Global Recall of 1,658 Cars

The luxury carmaker, famous for making the car driven by secret agent James Bond, sold 3,259 cars globally last year, nearly 8 percent of them in China.

Aston Martin’s plan was conveyed on Tuesday to Chinese regulatory agencies that had taken up the issue after dissatisfied customers complained. Formal documents would be submitted by the end of the European day, Palmer said.

Chinese authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

The global recall will be unwelcome publicity for a company that has said for years it wants to go public. It reported its first Q1 profit in a decade in May.

Palmer did not say how much the recall would cost, but knowledgeable people close to the company estimated the total cost at around 300,000 pounds ($380,760).

The recall will cover 1,658 Vantage cars built between June 2010 and September 2013 with the Sportshift I and Sportshift II automated manual transmission gearboxes, including 113 that were sold in China. The Vantage is the only Aston Martin model with a semi-manual shift.

FAILURE TO RESET

Palmer said the problem occurred because some dealerships in China failed to reset the clutch position after software updates to the automatic transmission system.

“In the normal course of events, when you make a software change, you have to re-teach the engagement position of the clutch. And most of our dealers around the world automatically did that,” he said. 

If the clutch is not re-taught the biting point – the point when the clutch plate engages with the engine plate – “it’s possible that a car could initially stall while in operation”, he said.

Aston Martin sent its engineers to China after it tried and failed to replicate the stalling problem in its own engineering laboratories. When they arrived, they discovered that some cars suffered unusual noise and vibration, and in worst cases an engine stall, after the new software was installed.

The…

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