GM safety crisis grows with recall of 3 million more cars for ignition issues

Mon Jun 16, 2014 11:14pm EDT
 
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By Peter Henderson and Paul Lienert

SAN FRANCISCO/DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co GM.N recalled three million more cars for ignition switch issues on Monday, roughly doubling the number of GM vehicles with known switch problems in a crisis that has defined the automaker and new Chief Executive Mary Barra this year.

GM on Monday recalled 3.36 million midsize and fullsize cars globally with ignition switches that can be jarred out of the "run" position, potentially affecting power steering, power brakes and air bags.

The switch issue is similar to the defect linked to at least 13 deaths in an earlier, 2.6-million vehicle recall of Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars.

GM engineers first noted the Cobalt problem more than a decade ago, and GM's slow response to the switch issue triggered investigations within the company and by Congress and federal agencies.

"The recall is just sort of the tip of the iceberg in terms of what has to be done" at GM, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut and one of GM’s more vocal critics in Congress, said after Monday's recall.

GM said the engineer who designed the defective Cobalt switches, Ray DeGiorgio, also designed the switches on the latest batch of recalled cars. DeGiorgio was fired after the earlier recall. He could not be reached for comment.

GM has issued 44 recalls this year totaling about 20 million vehicles worldwide, which is more than total annual U.S. vehicle sales. Of the recalls this year, nearly 6.5 million of the vehicles were recalled for ignition switch-related issues, including more than half a million Chevrolet Camaros on Friday.

The automaker raised a recall-related charge for the second quarter to $700 million from $400 million. That takes GM's total recall-related charges this year to $2 billion.   Continued...

 
The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan August 25, 2009.  REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky