Delta has offered to buy a controversial bakkie whose owner claims the chassis bent while he was on holiday - but the manufacturer is still adamant the damage was the result of an accident, overloading or abuse.

Jaco van der Merwe, the Pretoria man who has been displaying slogans on his 4x4 denouncing Delta, is considering an offer from the manufacturer to purchase the controversial vehicle on condition he has his vehicle evaluated by an independent body.

The manufacturer said it had conducted extensive in-house tests on a similar model.

"We tested to see when chassis distortion would take place, recognising that the permissible maximum vertical load as stated in the hand book, on the tow-ball of the vehicle, is 90kg.

“Our in-house static tests indicated that a vertical loading of in excess of 1 650 kg on the tow-ball resulted in similar damage as evidenced on Mr van der Merwe's vehicle. This grossly over-stressed condition clearly reinforces Delta's stand that the vehicle was damaged either as a result of an accident, overloading or abuse," said Doug Harrison, Delta's after sales director.

"With this information on hand and our prior evaluation of the unit we have thus confirmed once again, that no product deficiencies exist in the area where damage occurred," he said. "We are so confident in the product that we have repeated our request that the customer takes his vehicle to an impartial evaluator or arbitrator.

“We have recommended that he either uses the University of Pretoria or the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). As previously stated, Delta will absorb all costs allied to this activity.

“In order to expedite this matter, which has been dragging on for some time due to the customer's lack of co-operation in allowing an impartial evaluation/arbitration to take place, we have also offered to re-purchase his vehicle at the current Mead and McGrouther retail rate whether the findings of the evaluation are in our favour or not. We are still awaiting Mr van der Merwe's comment and acceptance in this regard."

Van der Merwe said he was "considering" the offer from the manufacturer. He claims that his Isuzu’s chassis bent while he was on holiday in Namibia in April 2001. The Isuzu was a year old and had about 29 000 km on the clock. He said Delta refused to replace or repair the vehicle. Delta says the chassis could only have bent if subjected to misuse or negligence.

Van der Merwe said he wanted to discuss the offer to purchase the KB 280 DT LX 4x4 with his legal team.

“We will be deciding shortly whether we will accept it or not, but personally I don’t even consider it an offer. If they had made this offer two years ago it would have been a good offer, but now I’ll lose out,” he said. Van der Merwe estimated that the offer would be about R174 000.

“They are still convinced that it was abuse or, as they put it, my bad driving style, that caused the problem, but now they want to buy the bakkie back,” Van der Merwe said.

Harrison said that the repurchase offer was conditional upon Van der Merwe having his vehicle evaluated by an independent body and the repurchase price in no way prejudiced the customer as it was in line with the value of similar used vehicles currently being sold.

Van der Merwe last month laid a charge of perjury against Delta marketing and product planning manager Alastair Ironside, after-sales district manager in Gauteng Tony Wilson and Isuzu reliability engineer Derek Sampson.

He said the officials had made false statements that severely prejudiced him.

Original article from Car