Porsche recalls Panamera amid seatbelt concern

The world-class reputation of Germany's automakers suffered a dent Tuesday as Porsche recalled all Panameras sold since the bold new four-door saloon was launched with fanfare in September.

Porsche recalls Panamera amid seatbelt concern
Photo: DPA

A spokesman for Stuttgart-based Porsche said the “precautionary” recall of 11,324 Panameras was because the seatbelt could come undone when the front seats are slid right forward into what it called an “extreme position.”

“It is possible that the function of the locking mechanism of the seat belt mount can no longer be guaranteed,” a safety notice said. “In the event of a crash, the seat belt may not provide adequate protection for the seat occupant, which may increase the risk of injury or death.”

“There have not been any accidents,” the spokesman told AFP. “The operation has been running since the beginning of March… and hope to have it completed this spring.”

The Panamera sells in Germany for between €75,899 ($101,370) for the basic model, according to Porsche, and €135,154 for the top-of-the-range Turbo – top speed of 303 kilometres (188 miles) per hour.

The car hit showrooms last year in Porsche’s latest move away from just making two-door sports cars like the 911 or Boxster, a process begun a few years earlier with the hugely successful Cayenne sports utility vehicle.

Porsche was also banking on 20,000 Panamera being snapped up by customers a year, putting it back on the road to recovery after the global recession made it and fellow German luxury automakers BMW and Daimler hit the skids.

It was also hoping that the elongated new star would restore some wounded pride after its audacious attempt under former boss chief Wendelin Wiedeking to take over the much larger Volkswagen went so spectacularly wrong. The bid went sour after the financial crisis dried up credit markets, ;eaving Porsche under a mountain of debt and with Volkswagen turning the


Volkswagen in December acquired a 49.9-percent stake in Porsche’s sports car operations for €3.9 billion as part of a complex merger expected to be finalised in 2011.

Tuesday’s recall came hot on the heels of a series of embarrassing recalls that has shattered the reputation of Japan’s Toyota, the world number one automaker. The Japanese giant had to recall around 10 million vehicles worldwide, mostly for problems with sudden acceleration which have been blamed for 58 deaths in the United States.

Toyota is facing at least 97 US lawsuits seeking damages for injury or death linked to sudden acceleration and 138 class action lawsuits from American customers suing to recoup losses in the resale value of Toyota vehicles.

Shares in Porsche, which said the financial hit from the recall would be minimal, fell almost three percent in Frankfurt on Tuesday. VW fell more than three percent.

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Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium

At least two people were hospitalised Tuesday after a Greenpeace activist crash-landed on the pitch before the Germany-France match at Euro 2020 when his powered parachute microlight struck spidercam cables at Munich's Allianz Arena.

Two hospitalized in Munich after activist crashes parachute into Euro 2020 stadium
The activist lands on the turf of the Allianz Arena. credit: dpa | Christian Charisius

The pilot flew over the pitch just before kick-off in the Group F clash with “Kick out oil” written on the canopy of his parachute.

However, when the pilot hit television cables above the pitch, it knocked his microlight off balance and he landed on the turf after clipping one of the stands, where the casualties happened.

The activist was arrested soon after landing.

A Munich police spokesman told AFP that at least two people suffered head injuries and “both had to be taken to hospital, we don’t know yet how serious the injuries are”.

The police spokesman said the activist appears to have escaped injury, but “we are considering various criminal charges. Munich police has zero understanding for political actions that put lives at risk”.

UEFA also slammed the botched stunt.

“This inconsiderate act – which could have had very serious consequences for a huge number of people attending – caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital and law authorities will take the necessary action,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.

The parachutist above the stadium. Photo: dpa | Matthias Balk

“The staging of the match was fortunately not impacted by such a reckless and dangerous action, but several people were injured nonetheless.”

The stunt was a protest against German car manufacturer Volkswagen, one of the sponsors of the European Championship, Greenpeace explained in a Twitter post.

“UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions,” said UEFA.

Greenpeace said they regretted any harm caused.

“This protest was never intended to disrupt the game or hurt people,” read a Twitter post on Greenpeace’s official German account.

“We hope that everyone is OK and that no one was seriously injured. Greenpeace actions are always peaceful and non-violent.”

“Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan.”

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