General Motors’ (GM) woes mounted on Monday as the car giant disclosed a new recall of nearly 1.5m vehicles, the latest in a series that the company said would cost it US$300 million in the first quarter.
The company announced a trio of US recalls that it said had come as “a result of [CEO] Mary Barra’s request for a comprehensive internal safety review” following an earlier ignition-switch recall. They are in addition to another 1.6 million cars recalled last week.
The company’s handling of the original ignition-switch recall is now the subject of a lawsuit and a US federal investigation. According to internal documents, GM knew of a switch problem in some of its vehicles as early as 2001, but only recalled the cars last month. At least 12 deaths and 31 crashes have been linked to the switch issue.
“Something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things occurred,” Barra told employees in a podcast.
“I asked our team to redouble our efforts on our pending product reviews, bring them forward and resolve them quickly,” Barra said. “We are conducting an intense review of our internal processes and will have more developments to announce as we move forward.”
The latest recalls relate to issues with seat-mounted side airbags in 1.18 million full-size crossover SUVs including the Chevrolet Traverse from 2009 to last year, the Buick Enclave from 2008 to last year, the GMC Acadia from 2008 to last year and the Saturn Outlook from 2008 to 2010.
GM says the danger happens if drivers ignore the airbag warning light on their instrument panel.
If drivers do not address the issue, it can lead to a wiring failure and “non-deployment of the side impact restraints.”
The company also issued a recall of 63,900 Cadillac XTS full-size sedans from last year and this year over a plug in the brake system that can come loose, allowing corrosion and increasing the likelihood of overheating and an engine-compartment fire.
The third recall relates to 303,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans where the material covering the passenger-side air bag does not meet US federal standards. The company said the risk only applied to passengers who are not wearing safety belts.
“Today’s announcement underscores the focus we’re putting on the safety and peace of mind of our customers,” Barra said.
independent auto analyst Michelle Krebs said the latest recalls would further damage GM’s brand, just as the company had appeared to be turning a corner.
Barra’s appointment in January was heralded as a pivotal moment for the company. She is the first woman to head a major car company and the first autoexecutive to run the company since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009.
“I think they are trying to send the message that this is the new GM, there will be no delays and they will tackle their issues,” Krebs said. “It is a hit on their reputation though. GM was seen as having quality issues, clearly they have improved, but this is a blow.”