GM reports thousands of ignition kits shipped, 1.4M owners notified
GM Shipping Ignition Parts and Dealer Repairs Underway
DETROIT General Motors has shipped thousands of kits consisting of ignition switches, ignition cylinders and key sets for older model small cars subject to a safety recall.
Letters were mailed last week to about 1.4 million owners of 2003-2007 models telling them to contact a GM dealer to make an appointment for repairs, which should take about 90 minutes. Wait times may be longer depending on the busyness of a particular dealership.
Owners of 2008-2011 models subject to the recall will receive a letter in early May confirming their inclusion in the recall. Another letter alerting them when parts are available will follow.
GM's 4,300 dealer service departments are replacing ignition switches that may fail to meet GM's torque specification. The ignition switch may unintentionally move from the "run" position to the "accessory" or "off" position with a corresponding reduction or loss of power. Dealers also are replacing ignition cylinders that can allow removal of the ignition key while the engine is running, leading to a possible rollaway, crash and occupant or pedestrian injuries.
The vehicles covered are model years:
2003-2007 Saturn Ion
2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
2007-2010 Pontiac G5
2007-2010 Saturn Sky
2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR
Until recall repairs are made, it is very important that customers remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the vehicle key. If there is a key fob, it also should be removed from the key ring. Owners of manual transmission vehicles should be sure the ignition is in the "Off" position and set to reverse gear with the parking brake set before removing the key. Owners of vehicles with automatic transmission should be sure the vehicle is in "Park" before removing the key.
The ignition-switch recall that has re-focused us on the alleged sins of the Old General Motors continues to reshape the New GM. Company CEO Mary Barra recently announced the creation of the Global Product Integrity Organization, headed by Mark Reuss and charged with taking the lead on safety issues concerning new product. Now, effective immediately, GM has split its vehicle engineering division into a Global Product Integrity side and a Global Components and Subsystems side that will "improve quality and safety in the wake of its recall crisis," according to a report in Automotive News.
This previously created global product integrity team will be a part of the new department with the same name inside vehicle engineering, its mission to enforce standards in areas like powertrain, electrical and performance engineering, as well as supplier quality. The components group will oversee "engineering operations, components development and advanced vehicle development."
A management reshuffle comes with the reorganization: VP of global vehicle engineering John Calabrese retiring, former head of chassis engineering Ken Morris taking the lead of the product integrity group, former European head of powertrain engineering Ken Kelzer taking over the components group. Further support will come from more than doubling the number of personnel who analyze consumer complaints, crashes and legal procedures looking for product safety issues.
Overall, the intent is to aid communication between all parties involved in vehicle development so that problems get solved before they reach showrooms, mimicking the "more holistic" organizational structure that's already been used to improve specific performance aspects of GM products.
The aftershocks of General Motors' ignition switch recall keep coming. First, the automaker announced that it saw an 86-percent decrease in net income for the first quarter of 2014 partially due to recall-related expenses. Now, a recent Securities and Exchange Committee filing from GM shows that it's facing a plethora of lawsuits and investigations, including one from the SEC itself.
GM admitted in the filing that as of April 22, it was facing 55 lawsuits in several US District Courts "alleging that consumers have been economically harmed by the recall and/or the underlying vehicle condition." There were also five cases filed in Canada in that time. In addition to these claims, "we are also the subject of various inquiries, investigations, subpoenas and requests for information from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Congress, NHTSA, the SEC, and a state attorney general in connection with our recent recalls."
Many of the pending lawsuits are from GM shareholders that claim the recall is harming the value of the company. These include a case in the US District Court in Detroit by the Police Retirement System of St. Louis. It charges not only the automaker, but also CEO Mary Barra, the chairman of the board, and two previous CEOs, according to The Detroit News.
So far, GM is attempting to limit the impact of lawsuits by having plaintiffs take up some cases with the remains of "Old GM" in court. According to the Detroit Free Press, the business could face several billion dollars in fines and settlements by the time the matter is complete. For comparison, Toyota paid out over a billion dollars just to settle the criminal probe into it unintended acceleration recall.
Autoblog reached out to the automaker and was given no comment its policy for ongoing legal matters. "GM intends to vigorously defend all of these cases," said the SEC filing.
GM begins compensation negotiations with ignition switch victims
The process of settling the plethora of lawsuits stemming from General Motors' ignition switch recall has begun in earnest, as GM lawyer Kenneth Feinberg met with Robert Hilliard, an attorney for some 300 people and families affected by the recall.
The pair met in Feinberg's Washington, D.C. office on Friday for a preliminary meeting which Hilliard told Reuters, appeared to be intended "to convince me they (GM) were going to do right," by people injured or killed due to GM's handling of the faulty ignition switch problem. The pair didn't come to an agreement on financial details.
As for what that means, Hilliard seems to think GM will assume responsibility for all accidents that caused injury or death, regardless of whether they happened before or after the company's 2009 bankruptcy deal. This would be a sea change from the defense GM has maintained since the outset of this crisis - that the company wasn't liable for events that transpired before it emerged from bankruptcy as "New GM." Feinberg wouldn't comment for Reuters' story.
GM may still retain the bankruptcy defense in cases that don't result in accidents, death or injury. According to Reuters, it's asked Judge Robert Gerber, the same man that handled the company's 2009 bankruptcy, to prevent cases involving plaintiffs that are simply trying make money, like those arguing that the recall has affected their car's resale value.
DOT, GM tests say single key is safe for recalled vehicles
Throughout General Motors' ignition switch recall, the embattled, Detroit-based manufacturer has maintained the mantra that some 2.6 million recalled vehicles were safe to drive, provided certain precautions were taken.
Now, GM has issued a video that it says is proof of that point. Starring Vice President of Global Safety Jeff Boyer, the video shows a number of tests carried out on affected vehicles at GM's sprawling Milford, MI proving grounds. Engineers beat the heck out of the cars, just to prove that if there's nothing on the key not even the key fob that even some seriously brutal roads won't switch off the ignition switch.
The GM video comes on the same day that the US Department of Transportation declared that recalled GM vehicles did not need to be parked, following a petition from a pair of Democratic senators. According to Reuters, Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have argued that affected models shouldn't be driven until repairs can be completed.
Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (shown above) dismissed the senators' arguments, though, writing that "such an action is not necessary at this time," and that the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "is satisfied" with GM's temporary solution to the problem.
According to Reuters, Senators Markey and Blumenthal's concerns rested with the performance of the faulty ignition switches on rough roads. This video should, hopefully, allay those concerns.
General Motors Offers New Discount to Owners of Recalled Cars
Move Is a Sign Auto Maker Is Using Recall as Opportunity to Sell New Vehicles
Owners affected by the General Motors ignition switch recall are getting even an better incentive to return to its brands for their next new car. The automaker says that these drivers can now get employee pricing on its models. Previously, GM was only offering them a $500 discount if they bought a new 2013 to 2015 vehicle.
According to GM spokesperson Jim Cain speaking to Autoblog, the company has been offering the incentive to affected owners for about a month. But it purposefully isn't advertising it or disclosing volumes. "We want to give dealers as many tools as they need to satisfy customers," he said. Buyers get employee pricing on 2013 to 2015 models, which is a certain percentage below dealer invoice, and it replaces the previous $500 offer. It will be available throughout the duration of the recall.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the original $500 enticement wasn't enough to bring buyers back to showrooms. Many of the roughly 2.6 million affected vehicles are on their second or third owners, and they might not be able to afford a new car.
GM's recall campaign for the ignition switches began in April. Cain said the effort is going as planned. Delphi is running multiple shifts for replacement parts and may add a second or third production line. The company expects to have a majority of vehicles repaired by October. In the meantime, affected drivers can take advantage of free loaners while their car is serviced.
GM fined a record $35 million over ignition switch recall
Company fined for failing to report problems in a timely manner
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has fined General Motors a record $35 (25.5 / £20.8) million for their botched ignition switch recall.
As part of the agreement, GM signed a consent order which requires them to provide the NHTSA with full access to their internal investigation, to take steps to ensure its employees report safety-related concerns to management and to speed up the process for GM to decide whether to recall vehicles.
In a statement, NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman said "No excuse, process, or organizational structure will be allowed to stand in the way of any company meeting their obligation to quickly find and fix safety issues in a vehicle. It's critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers promptly report and remedy safety-related defects that have the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation's highways."
Following the announcement, GM CEO Mary Barra stated We have learned a great deal from this recall. We will now focus on the goal of becoming an industry leader in safety." Her sentiments were echoed by GM's vice president of Global Vehicle Safety, Jeff Boyer, who said We are working hard to improve our ability to identify and respond to safety issue."