By now, General Motors’ recall of more than 2.3 million cars has become a top story. It all began with a handful of auto accidents that claimed the lives of 13 people throughout the United States — all of which are linked to faulty ignition switches in GM’s Chevy Cobalt model. But the story gets a bit thicker when the first layer is peeled back.
As it turns out, GM was actually quite aware of its factory defect a decade ago in 2004, though the juggernaut automaker has gone on record to admit officials knew of it as early as 2001. That information isn’t helping GM’s case, as all of its Cobalt models are currently being recalled alongside its Chevy HHR, Pontiac G5 and Solstice and Saturn Ion and Sky models.
But as Fox Business reported earlier this week, GM is taking steps to fix its horrendous mistake. All of the ignition switches in the recalled models are slated to be repaired beginning very soon, the company stated. GM is currently planning to send out letters to affected customers across the nation this week, informing them of how they can achieve the needed repairs.
But what was the problem in the first place? An overly sensitive ignition switch, which could be clicked off by heavy key rings or key fobs, shutting the car down completely while it’s still in motion. That’s what likely contributed to the deaths of those 13 people, the families of whom GM may be planning to compensate. GM officials met with attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who led the compensation fund for 9/11 victims’ families, in order to discuss those arrangements.
Joan Claybrook, former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told CBS News in February that GM’s actions were “immoral,” while GM CEO Mary Barra has that the company is “taking no chances with safety” by mandating a complete recall of affected models. Barra has even gone so far as to tell the Senate that yes, she would let her son operate a Chevy Cobalt — as long as he used the ignition key alone, not a key on a key chain.
The recall, in addition, was not forced upon GM by any governmental agency, but rather was a voluntary action. It’s unclear exactly how this most recent action will affect GM’s value at local dealerships, but Chevy dealers should be receiving the new parts very soon. Repair procedures should be underway before the end of April.
“From time to time in the automobile industry, there are issues that arise that need to be dealt with,” explains Brad Deterding, New Car Manager at Hudiburg Nissan. “It is important for manufacturers to step up to the plate and ensure the safety of their customers.”
What will Chevy learn from its latest mistake? At this point, it’s still hard to say. But as American motor production continues its decline, a 2.3 million-vehicle recall likely isn’t the answer to jump-start manufacturing back to its highest peaks.