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GM to recall 1.5M U.S. vehicles after Barra orders stepped up review

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(General Motors Co. photo) The 2013 Chevrolet Traverse is among 1.5 million vehicles General Motors will recall.

By Gabe Nelson, Crain News Service

WASHINGTON (March 18, 2014) — General Motors Co., under intense public pressure over its slow response to an ignition-switch defect in its small cars, said March 17 that it will recall more than 1.5 million additional vehicles for a trio of unrelated defects — twice as many as the auto maker recalled in the U.S. during all of 2013.

The recall affects 1.76 million vehicles globally.

In a statement March 17, GM CEO Mary Barra said she had asked her executives to give added attention to their pending reviews of GM products, “bring them forward and resolve them quickly,” suggesting that GM wants to put this episode behind it (To view the video click here).

GM has posted a video on its website of CEO Mary Barra addressing the recall issue.

In its statement, GM said the three new recalls, combined with the ignition switch recall, will lead GM to take a $300 million charge on its first-quarter earnings report to cover the cost of repairs.

The announcement “underscores the focus we’re putting on the safety and peace of mind of our customers,” Ms. Barra said in the statement.

The U.S. recalls affect:

• 303,000 units of the 2009-2014 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans. GM says it will rework the material used in their instrument panels to satisfy U.S. crash standards meant to protect unbelted passengers. GM has stopped delivery of the vans until “the solution has been completed and parts are available.”

• 63,900 units of the 2013-2014 Cadillac XTS full-size luxury sedan. GM says it needs to fix a problem with brake booster corrosion that can lead to overheating. A spokesman said GM knows of two vehicle fires linked to the defect.

• 1.18 million units of the 2008-2013 Buick Enclave, 2008-2013 GMC Acadia, 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse and 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook. The wiring harness for the seat-mounted side airbags can get pinched, turning on a warning light in the instrument panel. Ignoring the warning “will eventually result in the non-deployment of the side impact restraints,” including side airbags.

A spokesman said GM does not know of any injuries or deaths related to any of these three vehicle defects.

“We are conducting an intense review of our internal processes,” Ms. Barra said, “and will have more developments to announce as we move forward.”

More ignitions

In a video posted March 17 on GM’s website, Ms. Barra said the supplier making replacement ignition parts for the highly publicized switch recall is adding a second production line to double the parts’ availability.

She said GM is “completely focused on the problem at the highest levels of the company” and would be changing its system for deciding and managing recalls as a result.

The company has created a team of more than 50 employees at its customer engagement center in Warren, Mich., who are “100 percent dedicated to handling calls about the recall,” Ms. Barra said.

“Something went wrong with our process in this instance,” she said in the video, “and terrible things happened.”

In a memo sent to its dealers March 17, GM said the new ignition switch will be available for dealers to order starting April 7. Due to “the extreme supply constraint,” GM said dealers will not be able to stock the part in inventory but should place an order only if contacted by a vehicle owner, the memo says.

Said GM spokesman Jim Cain: “We want the parts to be available based on customer demand.”


Reporters Nick Bunkley and Mike Colias contributed to this report, which appeared on, the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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