(Adds details, recasts first paragraphs)
By Paul Lienert
DETROIT, March 28 General Motors Co
expanded its global recall of cars with defective ignition
switches to 2.6 million on Friday, adding 971,000 later-model
vehicles due to concerns over faulty replacement parts.
The recall now includes all model years of the Chevrolet
Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and
Pontiac Solstice made from 2003-2011.
At least 12 deaths have been linked to the defect in the
ignition, which when jostled or bumped can switch itself into
"accessory" mode, even at highway speeds, shutting down the
engine and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.
The expanded recall follows a Reuters report on Wednesday
that it was still possible to purchase GM-brand ignition
switches manufactured by Delphi Automotive carrying the
same part number as the product at the center of the February
GM redesigned the faulty part for model years after 2007,
but it did not change the part number, and it fears that some
newer-model cars could have been repaired with defective
Switches still available in parts stores may not be
defective, but it is nearly impossible to tell new ones from
older-design ones unless they are taken apart or the
manufacturing history is checked, Reuters reported.
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 Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Friday that "we are
taking no chances with safety" in replacing the ignition
switches on all 2.6 million cars. Barra is due to testify next
week before Congress, where she is likely to be grilled on why
it took GM more than 10 years to implement the recall.
The expanded recall adds 971,000 cars globally, including
824,000 in the United States, 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, of which about 5,000 remain on shelves.
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. Older versions of those cars, dating from
2003-2007, were recalled in two tranches in February.
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]
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