(Adds details, comments from GM and outside experts)
By Peter Henderson and Paul Lienert
SAN FRANCISCO/DETROIT, June 16 General Motors Co
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
"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
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.
Despite the rash of recalls this year, GM U.S. sales rose in
May to the highest level since August 2008.
GM's high profile problem this year has catalyzed recalls at
other automakers, said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the
Center of Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. He described the
recent flurry of activity as "recall spring."
"If it were unique to GM, I would say it is a much more
serious problem," said Cole.
Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director Center for Auto Safety
Of Monday's recall, said GM could not afford to take a chance on
not recalling a car. "Their calculus has totally changed," he
GM said it was aware of eight crashes and six injuries
related to the latest recall, but could not say if there were
The automaker on Monday said it would replace or rework
ignition keys to eliminate a slot in the end of the key. The
slot allows a dangling key ring to slip to one side and pull the
ignition key out of run position.
"The use of a key with a hole, rather than a slotted key,
addresses the concern of unintended key rotation due to a
jarring road event, such as striking a pothole or crossing
railroad tracks," it said.
A spokesman said the ignition switches did not need to be
replaced, even though they were "slightly" below the company
specification for torque -- the force needed to move the switch
out of the run position.
The latest recall includes Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala,
Cadillac DeVille and several other models, though only the
Impala is currently in production. The cars cover model years
2000 through 2014.
Monday's recall comes two days before CEO Barra is due to
return to Congress to testify about the earlier Cobalt recall.
Barra will be joined by Anton Valukas, chairman of GM's
outside law firm Jenner & Block, who conducted a months-long
investigation that detailed deep flaws in GM's internal
The so-called Valukas report triggered the departures of 15
GM employees, including several high-ranking executives in the
legal, engineering and public policy groups, as well as
GM said Barra wants to update Congress on the actions the
company has taken in response to the switch recall crisis,
including fixing the failures outlined in the company's internal
report, announcing plans to establish a victims' compensation
fund and setting up a structure at the company to ensure vehicle
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,
which administers vehicle recalls, said Monday that it would
"monitor the pace and effectiveness" of the latest GM recall and
"take necessary action as warranted."
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit and David
Lawder in Washington, DC; Editing by Peter Henderson and Bernard