(Adds global, U.S. numbers, quote from CEO)
By Paul Lienert
DETROIT, March 28 General Motors Co is
adding 971,000 cars to its global ignition switch recall, which
began in February with 1.6 million vehicles and has been linked
to at least a dozen deaths.
The recall, which now totals 2,591,665 cars, includes all
model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion,
Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Solstice made from 2003-2011.
Older versions of those cars, dating from 2003-2007, were
recalled in February.
Even before the expansion, the recall had sparked
investigations by Congress, federal regulators, the Department
of Justice and GM itself. All are asking why it took GM so long
to address an issue first noted by the company in 2001.
GM said the newer models made after 2007 were equipped with
a redesigned ignition switch, but that some of those cars might
have been repaired with older replacement parts that may be
faulty. The expanded recall includes 824,000 cars in the United
States and 971,000 globally, GM said.
GM also is recalling all the replacement ignition switches
that have been sent to U.S. aftermarket distributors, the spare
parts market. About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers
and parts wholesalers.
Reuters reported this week that it was still possible to
purchase GM-brand ignition switches manufactured by Delphi
Automotive carrying the same parts number as the
product at the center of the February recall.
These switches may not be defective, but it is nearly
impossible to tell unless they are taken apart or the
manufacturing history is checked.
GM said Friday that no deaths or injuries have been linked
to faulty ignition switches in the newer models that have been
added to the recall.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said Friday that "we are
taking no chances with safety" in replacing the ignition
switches on all 2.6 million cars.
Some of the newer cars could have faulty replacement
ignitions that could be switched from "run" to "accessory,"
shutting down the engine and disabling the cars' power steering,
power brakes and airbags.
GM had said on Thursday that the replacement ignition switch
it has ordered from Delphi to use in the earlier recall will
bear a new part number that "eliminates any potential confusion
about which part to use in the repair," according to a company
spokesman. [ID: nL1N0MO281]
A GM spokesman on Friday said GM decided to recall all the
replacement parts currently in stock at U.S. parts distributors
"out of an abundance of caution."
GM said owners will be notified by mail the week of April 21
and can have ignition switches replaced for free at dealers "as
parts become available" -- a process that is likely to take
months because of the sheer number of vehicles involved.
GM also launched a website, www.gmignitionupdate.com, to
provide consumers with information on the recall.
GM replaced the Cobalt in 2010 with a newer compact, the
Cruze. On Friday, the automaker told U.S. dealers to stop
selling certain 2013 and 2014 Cruze sedans equipped with
1.4-liter engines without saying why.
(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit, editing by Peter