CHICAGO: General Motors announced last week its second massive recall in two months as it works to contain a growing scandal over the safety of its vehicles.
The latest recall of nearly 1.8 million vehicles linked to three new problems comes as a result of an internal probe into why it took the largest US carmaker so long to acknowledge a deadly ignition defect.
GM is facing multiple investigations by US authorities over its slowness to react to evidence linking a defective ignition switch to 31 accidents and 12 deaths in its 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2003-2007 Saturn Ion models.
The problem was detected at the pre-production stage as early as 2001, but GM waited until last month to recall 1.6 million vehicles in North America. The latest recall covered three different defects unrelated to the ignition problems, none tied to reports of accidents or injuries, GM said.
However, the carmaker said it will take a $300 million charge in the first quarter to cover the cost of the recalls and repairs.
The ignition recall is the first big crisis for new chief executive Mary Barra, who took the company’s helm on January 15 as the first woman to lead a major carmaker. Barra responded forcefully, announcing she would release an “unvarnished” report following a thorough review and vowing to improve how GM handles defect reports.
“Today’s announcement underscores the focus we’re putting on the safety and peace of mind of our customers,” Barra said in a statement. “I asked our team to redouble our efforts on our pending product reviews, bring them forward and resolve them quickly.”
In a video statement to employees, Barra called the federal probes “serious developments that shouldn’t surprise anyone.”
The bulk of the additional vehicles that were recalled—more than 1.5 million—were sold in the US. Some 97,000 were sold in Canada and the remainder were sold in other markets around the world. Of the vehicles recalled, some 1.3 million were due to a defective service air bag warning light. The defect could prevent airbags and seat belts from deploying during a crash.