MPs grill Vauxhall over Zafira fires

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General Motors has been criticised by MPs over its inaction relating to the hundreds of Vauxhall Zafiras that caught fire last year.

At a parliamentary hearing, members of the Commons Transport Committee accused the car manufacturer of treating some customers like 'second-class citizens'.

Last year, more than 234,000 Vauxhall Zafira B cars were recalled for a second time over a technical problem that had resulted in fires. Vauxhall blamed improper repairs to the heating and ventilation systems.

Evira Toelkes, vice-president of quality at GM Europe, told MPs the company had written to 1.2 million affected customers offering advice on how to get their cars fixed, and said 165,000 cars had been repaired.

However, SNP politician Stewart Malcolm McDonald said that some customers were so disappointed with the way they had been treated at dealerships – some claimed the 'fix' caused further problems – that they had formed a group to lobby Parliament.

"I can't think of another product in the United Kingdom at the moment where people have set up a campaign group and come to Parliament to try and resolve it," he said.

Helen Foord, head of government relations at GM, said: "Our dealers were trying to make the recall process as smooth and easy for customers as possible, but we understand that might not be the case the whole time and we apologise for the additional inconvenience."

MPs also criticised the firm for only investigating 59 cars, despite knowing of 287 reported fires. The company said that it could not always get access to damaged vehicles because customers and insurance companies didn't always allow access, while others had already been scrapped.