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Published: Monday, 3/17/2014

GM recalls 1.5M more vehicles

‘Terrible things happened,’ CEO declares in unusual admission

REUTERS

DETROIT — General Motors Co. announced new recalls of 1.5 million vehicles on Monday, and in a virtually unprecedented public admission by a GM chief executive, Mary Barra acknowledged the company fell short in catching faulty ignition switches linked to 12 deaths.

“Something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things happened,” she told employees in a video message posted online. Ms. Barra said the company is changing how it handles defect investigations and recalls.

In the last two months, GM has recalled more than 3.1 million vehicles in the United States and other markets, starting with last month’s recall of more than 1.6 million vehicles for faulty ignition switches. The latest recalls cover airbag wiring harnesses, brake parts, and other components across several models.

The Detroit automaker said on Monday it would take a $300 million charge in the first quarter, primarily to cover the costs related to the ignition-switch recall and the three new recalls.

Ms. Barra previously apologized for GM's failure to catch the faulty ignition switches sooner. In Monday’s video, she said GM is “conducting an intense review of our internal processes and will have more developments to announce as we move forward.”

The ignition-switch recall applies to such older GM models as the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2003-2007 Saturn Ion. Government criminal and civil investigations, congressional hearings, and class-action lawsuits have begun in the United States and Canada. All ask why GM took so long to address a problem it has said first came to its attention in 2001.

Ms. Barra, who took over as CEO in January, said on Monday that the company was working with the supplier of the ignition switches, Delphi Automotive, to add a second production line for replacement parts and that customers would receive a detailed notice by mail during the second week of April.

The recalls announced Monday include:

● 1.18 million SUVs because their side air bags, front center air bags, and seat belt pretensioners might not deploy if drivers ignore an air bag warning light on their dashboard. The recall includes the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia from the 2008-2013 model years; the Chevrolet Traverse from the 2009-2013 model years, and the Saturn Outlook from the 2008-2010 model years.

● 303,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans from the 2009-2014 model years because the material on the instrument panel might not adequately protect unbelted passengers’ heads in a crash.

● 63,900 Cadillac XTS sedans from the 2013 and 2014 model years because a plug in the brake assembly can get dislodged and short, increasing the risk of an engine compartment fire.

GM says it has received no reports of injuries related to any of the three recalls. But that contradicts publicly available complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drivers of the SUVs involved in the air bag recall have reported seven injuries to NHTSA because their air bags did not deploy.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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