By Nick Bunkley, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Oct. 20, 2014) — Ignition problems account for more than half of the 30 million recall notices going out to General Motors Co. customers this year, but the rest disproportionately involve vehicles sold in the last two years rather than defects unearthed from the bureaucracy of old GM.
An Automotive News analysis of documents filed with federal regulators shows that GM is moving faster to identify and fix problems but that many defects, especially in newer vehicles, are still reaching customers.
As of last week, 51 of GM's 78 recalls this year — including three communicated to dealers but not yet announced — cover 2014 or 2015 model year vehicles.
Twelve of the recalls affect the current generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, making them the most frequently recalled vehicle family. The pickups were also recalled three times last year, for a total of 15 callbacks since their introduction, which then-CEO Dan Akerson called “probably our best launch ever.”
In the U.S., GM has recalled 2.5 million 2014 vehicles and more than 150,000 from the just-begun 2015 model year, though some are counted multiple times because they are subject to more than one recall. The 2014 model year figure is equal to 86 percent of the 2.9 million vehicles that GM sold in the U.S. during the past 12 months.
“They're not all giant recalls,” said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies in Rehoboth, Mass., “but they clearly are still having some significant issues creep into their cars that you would hope they would have caught before making their way out into the marketplace.”
The data contrast with gains in GM's quality ratings and with public perceptions — as measured by multiple consumer surveys — that the problems now being addressed largely stem from the dysfunctional, prebankruptcy era rather than ongoing issues. Early on, GM CEO Mary Barra framed the company's safety crisis as a relic of the way it used to operate, telling members of Congress that GM has “moved from a cost culture to a customer culture.”