A GM recall over faulty ignition switches has been expanded to 824,000 more vehicles, the company announced yesterday. Cars with defective ignition switches may have disabled airbags as well as the sudden shut off of their engines.
In addition to the GM recall involving 1.6 million cars made last month that were made before 2007, the company is adding several models that were manufactured between 2008 and 2011.
The flaws in the 2008-2011 models caused the deaths of between 12 and 303 drivers and passengers, something GM says it is unaware of.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GM recalled approximately 758,000 vehicles in 2013 in the US, ninth among carmakers. Toyota recalled the most (5.3 million vehicles), followed by Chrysler (4.7 million) and Honda (2.8 million).
Chevrolet Cruze sales halted
GM says the sale of some of the models of the Chevrolet Cruze car, a popular model, have been halted.
The automaker did not say why the models with the 1.4 liter turbo diesel engines were temporarily off its sales list, neither did it specify whether just US or also other markets were affected.
“We are taking no chances with safety. Trying to locate several thousand switches in a population of 2.2 million vehicles and distributed to thousands of retailers isn’t practical. Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling the rest of the model years.”
“We are going to provide our customers with the peace of mind they deserve and expect by getting the new switches into all the vehicles.”
Friday’s GM recall, i.e. the 824,000 additional automobiles, include the Sky, Saturn Ion, Pontiac G5 and Solstice, and the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR.
Defect causes ignition-key to shift
The ignition switch in some faulty vehicles causes the key to shift from “run” to the “off” or “accessory” position, even while the driver is on the road. The sudden key-shift can switch the engine off and disable the airbags – a potentially fatal combination.
Owners of GM cars are being advised to remove the ignition key from key-rings and other accessories so that just the key is used in the ignition switch.
In a press release today, GM wrote:
“Owners who may have had a suspect part installed will receive a letter the week of April 21. GM dealers will replace their ignition switch free of charge as parts become available. Customers who paid to have their ignition switches replaced will be eligible for reimbursement.”
Some GM employees were aware of the ignition flaw since 2004, the company admitted on Friday.
While the Center for Auto Safety has linked the ignition defect to 303 deaths, GM says 12 people have died.
Yesterday GM announced it was recalling 490,000 trucks and 172,000 compact cars.
During the first three months of 2014 the company has recalled six times as many vehicles as in the whole of 2013.
Having such a large number of recalls over a short period is a problem for General Motors, which is trying to recover its reputation and is more vulnerable than some other car manufacturers, such as Toyota.
Kevin Lane Keller, professor of marketing at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business said in an interview with the New York Times “One of the advantages of having a strong brand is that it helps you weather a crisis more easily.”