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General Motors expands ignition-switch recall again by 971,000 cars

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GM ingnition switch recall

Days before Congress holds hearings on why it took General Motors so long to let millions of car owners know about a potentially deadly defect, the car company admitted more cars are affected and is recalling nearly one million more cars globally.

General Motors announced late Friday it would recall another 824,000 vehicles in the U.S. and 147,000 worldwide because they may contain faulty ignition switches that could inadvertently turn off the engine and safety systems while the cars are in motion. This is the third wave of the recall, originally announced last month, and Friday’s news brings the total tally to nearly 2.6 million cars. GM has acknowledged has caused at least 12 deaths and 31 car accidents.

GM said it’s expanding the recall because the company sold approximately 95,000 of the faulty ignition switches to aftermarket wholesalers and dealers, and doesn’t think it’s practical to try and track them all down.

“We are taking no chances with safety,” General Motors CEO Mary Barra said in a written statement. “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.”

Continue reading General Motors expands ignition-switch recall again by 971,000 cars

General Motors expands ignition-switch recall again by 971,000 cars originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 28 Mar 2014 22:20:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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March 28th, 2014

Senator wants DoJ to create GM victims’ fund

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Connecticut Senate

US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, is echoing the call of safety advocates in requesting that the Justice Department create a compensation fund for those killed or injured behind the wheel of General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches.

Blumenthal, pictured above, wrote to US Attorney General Eric Holder and called for the DoJ to “immediately intervene on behalf of those injured and killed and all who suffered damages as a result of faulty ignition switches,” according to a new report from The Detroit News.

At least 12 deaths are attributed to the problem and there have been 31 accidents blamed on defective ignition switches that were inadvertently turned from the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position, a process that disables the steering, anti-lock brakes and airbags.

Blumenthal’s comments follow those of Clarence Ditlow and Joan Claybrook, two safety advocates that have already called on GM to create a $1-billion trust fund to compensate crash victims. GM has so far claimed it’s not liable for company actions that transpired prior to its bankruptcy, a defense brought about by the terms of its bailout agreement.

“There are certain cases where liabilities prior to bankruptcy – I don’t know the right word – they’re with the previous company,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. This “Old GM” position has been one of the most contentious of this entire ordeal. Blumenthal even called it out in his letter to Holder, requesting that the DoJ “oppose any effort by GM to deny responsibility for consumer damages.”

This isn’t Blumenthal’s first push against “New GM” immunity – The Detroit News reports that in 2009, the then-attorney general of Connecticut led seven other attorneys general against a measure that would protect the new company from the actions of its bankrupt forbearer.

GM remains in hot water with federal authorities, with the DoJ conducting a criminal investigation into the handling of the recall. The big question seems to be whether GM committed bankruptcy fraud by failing to disclose the faulty ignition switches. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also looking into the ignitions, which GM has known about since 2001, while Barra is set to testify before a House of Representatives subcommittee next week.

Senator wants DoJ to create GM victims’ fund originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Mar 2014 15:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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March 24th, 2014

Barra says recalled GM cars ‘safe to drive’ with one big ‘if’

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GM Barra

The ongoing investigation into General Motors‘ 1.6-million-car ignition recall continues to pick up steam, with most questions centering on what the company knew and when it knew it. On Tuesday, newly minted CEO Mary Barra held a press conference to directly address questions about GM’s safety problems and their ramifications. In addition to public criticism and potential lawsuits, the business is facing multiple government examinations into how it handled the issue.

During the conference, Barra reportedly said that she first learned about an internal safety investigation in late December and found out that a recall was necessary on January 31. A repair campaign for 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models was first announced on February 13 and broadened about a week later to cover more models.

According to The New York Times, during the conference, Barra was asked directly if the affected cars are safe to drive until the ignition switch is replaced. She responded: “If you have just the ring with the key, it is safe to drive.” She spoke to GM engineers about the issue and asked them, “Would you let your wife drive this car? … And they said yes.” The problem, which involves the potential for the ignition to shut off unintentionally (killing engine power and deactivating the airbags), is understood to be exacerbated by large and heavy key rings that place strain on the ignition.

The company has been addressing this major safety issue since it went public in February. On March 18, it appointed Jeff Boyer to the newly created position of vice president for global vehicle safety. It has also promised loaner vehicles and a $500 cash allowance on a new GM product to affected owners.

The automaker is still facing a hearing in front of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee. Barra said she would speak there if asked, according to the NYT. The company is also preparing a 107-question timeline on the recall for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and conducting an internal investigation. This is clearly far from over, so stay tuned for future developments.

Barra says recalled GM cars ‘safe to drive’ with one big ‘if’ originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 19 Mar 2014 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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March 19th, 2014

GM’s got 107 problems and NHTSA’s No. 1

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ARCHIV: Das Logo von General Motors und ein blaues Lichtband zieren das Renaissance Center in Detroit (Foto vom 08.06.11).

General Motors’ problems with its recall of roughly 1.6-million vehicles continue to mount. Now that it has emerged that GM knew about the problem since at least 2004 but waited to recall vehicles until February 2014, regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have begun a much deeper investigation. NHTSA has sent a 27-page survey to GM that includes 107 questions about the timeline of what led up to the recall, and it has until April 3 to reply.

This isn’t a simple, multiple-choice test. Automotive News believes that hundreds of pages could be required to answer some of the queries. NHTSA says that it is still investigating GM’s response to the recall. “We are a data-driven organization, and we will take whatever action is appropriate based on where our findings lead us,” said NHTSA in a statement on its website. If found liable, the automaker could face a fine as high as $35 million and even possible criminal charges, according to Bloomberg.

NHTSA’s questions include a detailed explanation of GM’s examination process; how it will improve the process; why a planned redesign of the cars’ key in 2005 wasn’t implemented; and specific data on each complaint it received. According to Bloomberg, NHTSA also has records that show the company had a meeting with regulators to discuss the airbag failure in a Chevrolet Cobalt in 2007.

New GM CEO Mary Barra has also hired an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation about what happened. It will include questioning company employees who were involved with the process from the start. The recall stems from faulty ignition switches that shut off the car while driving, and if it occurs the airbags deactivate. Thirteen deaths and 23 crashes have been caused by the problem, according to Bloomberg. If you would like to peruse NHTSA’s entire questionnaire for GM, it can be viewed here.

GM’s got 107 problems and NHTSA’s No. 1 originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 06 Mar 2014 16:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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March 6th, 2014

Followup: GM facing federal investigation into timeliness of deadly ignition recall

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Chevy Cobalt - front three-quarter view

Thirteen motorists are dead, and federal safety regulators want to know why.

On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it would investigate why General Motors delayed a recall of more than 1.37 million vehicles when it knew a defect existed for as long as a decade. In the interim, faulty ignition switches that prevented airbag deployment have been linked to 13 fatalities and caused 31 known crashes.

NHTSA said it would investigate the timeliness of GM’s recall, and the Detroit-based automaker could face a financial penalty if investigators find they stalled in fixing a deadly safety issue. Automotive safety advocates say NHTSA could have also investigated sooner.

“NHTSA’s enforcement activities have been completely lax, and they let it slide and people died,” said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies. “And GM’s shown a willingness to obfuscate what was really happening.”

Continue reading GM facing federal investigation into timeliness of deadly ignition recall

GM facing federal investigation into timeliness of deadly ignition recall originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 27 Feb 2014 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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February 27th, 2014

Breaking: GM expands ignition switch recall to over 1.3 million cars amid climbing death toll

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Saturn Ion Quad Coupe

588,000 Saturn Sky, Saturn Ion, Pontiac Solstice and Chevy HHR models join the 778,000 cars already being recalled.

General Motors has announced a massive expansion of a 778,000-unit recall we told you about two weeks ago, doubling not only the total number of cars affected but expanding the recall beyond Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models previously mentioned. The recall originally centered around ignition switches that could slip out of the “run” position if jostled or if any weight was applied to the key in the cylinder.

The recall has swollen to over 1.3-million units, and where before it was limited to vehicles built between 2005 and 2007, it now includes vehicles screwed together in 2003 and 2004, as well. Saturn Ion coupes and sedans built between 2003 and 2007, Chevrolet HHR vanlets built between 2006 and 2007 and the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters from 2006 and 2007 are now all included in the recall.

At the same time, the number of accidents being attributed to the faulty ignition switches has grown, as well. Thirteen fatalities in 31 accidents are being blamed on vehicles that switched out of the “run” position without warning, a situation that prevented airbags from deploying. That’s up from the original report’s 6 deaths and 22 accidents.

GM has begun the intensive process of informing owners of the affected vehicles, and according to its press release, available below, it will not limit its efforts to written notifications. In addition to letters, it will reach out via social media and its customer care centers. Owners of affected vehicles are being asked to report to dealers for the installation of a new ignition switch. Those that are delayed in getting the repair should remove any weights, such as keyrings, from their ignition key.

Finally, GM is taking the blame for its lack of oversight, after it was revealed in court depositions that the Detroit-based manufacturer knew about the bad ignition switches while the affected models were still new, by submitting a chronology of events to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The chronology shows that the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been,” Alan Batey, GM’s North American president, 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.”

It would appear that GM has just opened up itself to a great deal of liability and lawsuit potential – we’re looking into the potential ramifications of this admission and recall expansion, and we’ll get back to you when we know more. For now, take a look at the full press release from GM below.

Continue reading GM expands ignition switch recall to over 1.3 million cars amid climbing death toll

GM expands ignition switch recall to over 1.3 million cars amid climbing death toll originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 25 Feb 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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February 25th, 2014
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