Just days after General Motors (GM) issued a recall of more than 780,000 vehicles over problems with their ignition switches, the company has announced it is increasing the recall to cover more than 1.6 million cars worldwide.
We reported on Friday that GM had recalled certain models of its Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada (A Decade Later, GM Recalls Chevy Cobalt, Pontiac G5 Over Ignition Switch). Well, now the list of recalled vehicles has been expanded to include all of the following:
- 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
- 2007 Pontiac G5
- 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR
- 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice
- 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
- 2007 Saturn Sky
The Detroit News reported yesterday that 13 deaths have been linked to the ignition switch defect, with 31 crashes in total said to be linked to the problem. GM has spent almost a decade studying the issue, in which heavy key chains or items attached to the key can cause the engine to shut off and airbags to fail. Despite knowing about the problem, it seems it’s taken GM almost ten years to decide on whether it should issue a recall – and, as we’ve seen, even the first recall was only for two of the six types of vehicles affected.
GM North America President Alan Batley has admitted the company is “deeply sorry” for the problem, adding that GM would now take an “unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward.”
The company previously resisted calls for the larger recall, arguing that many of the deaths linked to the ignition switch defect occurred in crashed that involved high speed or alcohol. There’s clearly been a change of heart, though; drivers are now being advised to drive only with the key itself in the ignition, removing all fobs and attachments, until dealers have been able to replace the ignition switch. Replacement parts are due to be ready on April 7.
On its website, the company’s official statement shows the scale of the problem:
“In addition to 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Pursuit sold in Canada only, GM is separately recalling 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs, and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models. The affected U.S. vehicle population, including those vehicles recalled Feb. 13, totals 1,367,146.”
Batley also admitted that “the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been.”
It’s heartening to see GM committed to fixing the problem, but 13 deaths in ten years is too much and it took too long for this recall to come about. If GM finds another problem in its vehicles today, will drivers only hear about it in 2024? Profits cannot come before people, and hopefully such a major – and widely reported– recall will help GM wake up to the fact that consumers themselves will always be the true driving force behind their business.