|Owners of MAN Truck stage a rally in front of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Sejong, on Sept. 17. / Courtesy of Kim Young-booo|
By Nam Hyun-woo
|MAN Truck & Bus Korea CEO Max Burger|
In a phone interview with The Korea Times, Kim Young-booo, leader of the owner group, said MAN Truck & Bus Korea (MTBK) is still responsibility for rust and cracks observed in multiple MAN Truck models' engines and refusing to provide free repair services for the critical problems, even though MAN Truck & BUS CEO Joachim Drees issued an apology over issues in Korea.
"After the CEO's apology, I talked with MTBK about whether it has changed its stance, but they denied responsibility and refused everything ― no conversation and no apology," Kim said.
"I asked back why, when their CEO already made an apology, but the reply I got was they didn't agree with the headquarters.'"
For today's showcase event in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, two ranking officials from MAN headquarters ― Corporate Quality Senior Vice President Thomas Konert and After Sales Management Senior Vice President Jan Witt ― are in Korea to explain technological reasons for the issues and measures to address them.
Kim said, however, MAN Truck owners have already lost their trust in the company's future measures, adding they were not allowed to hear the explanation though they were "the victims."
"The measure will likely be a promise that the company will extend the free after-sales service period from three to five years," Kim said. "However, we already saw MTBK refusing to repair engine rust and cracks for free even though some of the damaged vehicles were in the three-year free repair period."
Kim and a number of MAN truck owners have been crying foul over their "defective trucks" throughout this year, saying the company is denying any responsibilities for multiple issues, including softening brakes, erroneous transmission and cracks in the engine head, which all derived from "structural errors in engine design."
Seventy-two drivers of MAN trucks have already filed a class action suit against the importer.
In early September, MTBK launched a recall affecting 1,191 trucks, but those were over a cooling hose, which Kim stressed was "irrelevant to engine rust and cracks."
"As far as we studied, the problems come from MAN Truck's bid to update its engines to meet the Euro 6 vehicle emission standards by heating up the engine, which expends coolant and leaves salinity causing the rust," Kim said.
"Multiple institutions, including the transport ministry, confirmed the rust, and some of them said it is impossible that MAN Truck didn't know this," he said, saying he heard MTBK CEO Max Burger "ordered employees to deny the existence of the rust."
"What we want is a proper apology for the defects, countermeasures and compensation to owners," Kim said. "Otherwise, it is best for MTBK to withdraw from Korea."
Wellcom, a PR agency for MTBK, said the event was about explaining the reasons for a range of issues raised by the truckers. "The company will also announce its countermeasures in response to their claims," it said.