Premium weight manufacturers told Tyres & Accessories that preliminary research shows such imports may contain up to 50 times the level of cadmium currently allowed in the products.
After the relatively successful introduction of the End of Life Vehicle (ELV) directive earlier this year, it seemed as if all but the most unscrupulous companies had followed the necessary legal guidelines and switched to lead-free weight alternatives. However, there was a problem. Intense raw material demand from the emerging markets like China means the cost of the metals used in weight production has skyrocketed.
Prices of zinc, the most common lead substitute, have quadrupled in the last two years, forcing the leading weight manufacturers to try and recoup some of their costs through price increases. In turn, tyre wholesalers have reportedly begun importing large quantities of low-price non-lead weights from China. These dramatically undercut leading the prices of leading brands, but there are question marks over both the legality and quality of some of these products.