Bloomberg News

GM Apologizes as Ignition Recall Widened to 1.6 Million Cars

February 25, 2014

General Motors Co. (GM:US), saying it was “deeply sorry,” more than doubled the scope of a vehicle recall to fix defective ignition switches now linked to 13 deaths from airbags failing to deploy.

The recalls, limited initially to 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 cars, were widened to include 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and the 2006-2007 Saturn Sky, the Detroit-based company said in a statement today. About 1.62 million cars are now included.

U.S. auto-safety regulators were told in 2007 of a possible link between defective ignition switches and airbags not deploying, Bloomberg News reported last week. GM described the issue in a technical service bulletin the previous year.

“The chronology shows that the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been,” GM’s North America president, Alan Batey, said in a statement. “Today’s GM is committed to doing business differently and better. We will take an unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward.”

GM, the largest U.S.-based automaker, said it submitted a detailed chronology associated with the initial recall to U.S. regulators yesterday. The chronology outlines events that happened between receiving the first field reports and issuing a recall, GM said.

‘Deeply Sorry’

GM said it’s taking steps to address customers’ concerns and is working with suppliers to accelerate availability of parts needed to fix the cars. Dealers will work with customers on a case-by-case basis to minimize inconvenience, GM said.

“Ensuring our customers’ safety is our first order of business,” Batey said. “We are deeply sorry, and we are working to address this issue as quickly as we can.”

The Pontiac Pursuit, a model sold only in Canada, will also be recalled, GM said.

The company said key rings that are too heavy or jarring can cause ignition switches to come out of the run position, in turn causing the engines to shut off and a crash-sensing algorithm to misfire in a way that deactivates the airbags.

GM initially recalled just the Cobalt and G5 on Feb. 13. Auto-safety advocates had said the other five models also should be recalled.

Dealers will replace ignition switches to prevent unintentional or inadvertent key movement, GM said in its statement. Until the cars are repaired, customers should use only the ignition key and nothing else in the key ring, the company said.

Customers should drive responsibly and wear their seat belts, GM said.

Initially, 619,122 U.S. cars were covered, along with 153,310 in Canada and 6,130 in Mexico. In that initial group of vehicles, GM said it had identified six deaths and 17 other non-fatal crashes with injuries involving frontal impact where air bags didn’t deploy.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has advised customers who own recalled models to get their vehicles serviced promptly when they receive notices from GM.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net


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