In continuing coverage of the General Motors vehicle recalls over problems with ignition switches, the volume of coverage erupted following GMâ€™s announcement yesterday of additional recalls. Several national outlets and wires are reporting on the new recall numbers, with many others addressing the overall recall scandal and the governmentâ€™s response in both DOT and Congress.
The CBS Evening News broadcast that early yesterday evening, GM announced it would be enlarging the number of vehicles so that the list â€œincludes newer models.â€ CBS reporter Jeff Glor says, â€œitâ€™s a recall of every single car manufactured under six different models,â€ recalling 971,000 more cars. The broadcast continues, GM counts â€œat least 12 deaths in 31 crashesâ€ because of the problem, although the company â€œdidnâ€™t start the recalls until last month,â€ despite having known of the ignition issue since 2001. Furthermore, the broadcast mentions that GM CEO Mary Barra will be appearing before Congress on Tuesday. The automaker is going to start repairs on the switches â€œin two weeks, but they could take months to complete.â€
NBC Nightly News broadcast that the cars in this latest recall â€œwere built from 2008 to 2011 and the vehicles include the Chevy Cobalt and HHR, the Pontiac G5 and Solstice and the Saturn Ion and Sky,â€ but â€œunlike the older vehicles no deaths have been officially linked to these models.â€ The broadcast explains that GM is taking â€œan abundance of cautionâ€ in dealing with the issue. Also, yesterday, GM further â€œtold dealers to stop selling 2013 and 2014 models of the Chevy Cruze with 1.4 liter turbo enginesâ€ but â€œhas not given a reason for that order.â€
In a long â€œAP Impactâ€ report, the AP focuses on how NHTSA handled 164 complaints submitted by 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt drivers since 2005, which â€œwas far moreâ€ complaints â€œthan any of the carâ€™s competitors from the same model years, except for Toyota Corolla, which was recalled after a government investigation in 2010.â€ Though the report implies that NHTSA should have done more to address the concerns, it also considers the difficulty of determining vehicle issues. The report mentions that Secretary Foxx last week requested an â€œinternal investigationâ€ of the agencyâ€™s response to the GM problems, noting the letter in which Foxx made the appeal, where he stated that there was nothing he knew of to suggest that NHTSA â€œfailed to properly carry out its safety mission based on the data available to it and the processes followed.â€ Foxx also â€œsaid that GM didnâ€™t give the government enough information.â€ Still, the report makes a point to say â€œsometimes NHTSA acts quickly … the agency investigated electric car maker Tesla Motors after just two reports of vehicle fires and no injuries.â€ The AP also reports under the headline â€œMajor Events In GMâ€™s Recall Of 1.6 Million Cars.â€
Bold Rid reports online that â€œNHTSA has had its staff cut by one fifth and its budget â€˜stagnateâ€™ in the years since the Ford Explorer safety scandal in 2000,â€ after which Congress passed a law to bolster the agencyâ€™s investigation powers. The report is sympathetic with the staff cuts, saying that â€œ51 versus 248 million,â€ or the estimated number of cars in the US, â€œis a lop-sided contest, no matter the competition,â€ continuing by saying the agency â€œis terribly underfunded and understaffed.â€
Bloomberg News reports that this augmented recall of 971,000 more vehicles â€œbrings the total to 2.59 million small cars.â€ GM spokesperson Jim Cain explained in a phone interview with Bloomberg News, â€œWe know that these vehicles were built with good switches but what we donâ€™t know: Were any of them repaired with a bad switch … So out of an abundance of caution weâ€™re just going to replace the switches in all of them.â€ The report points out that, besides the congressional investigation into GM, the company â€œis conducting an internal review and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating,â€ as well as the Justice Department. Barra also issued a statement on the expanded recalls, saying that â€œTrying to locate several thousand switches in a population of 2.2 million vehicles and distributed to thousands of retailers isnâ€™t practical.â€ The Los Angeles Times reports that Cain also said, â€œWe need to make sure that one of these bad switches did not wind up in one of these newer vehicles. Rather than leave anything to chance, we are going to call them back and replace them.â€
A 1000+ word report by the New York Times talks about Florida engineer Mark Hood, who was consulted in the lawsuit of the family of Brooke Melton against GM. Preparing for his role in Melton v. GM, Hood â€œhad photographed, X-rayed and disassembledâ€ the GM ignition switch from Brooke Meltonâ€™s 2005 Chevy Cobalt, but Hood â€œwas at a loss to explain why the engine … had suddenly shut off, causing her fatal accident in 2010 in Georgia.â€ Upon purchasing a replacement ignition switch from a local GM dealership, however, Hood discovered that, despite having the same identification number as Meltonâ€™s faulty switch, â€œa tiny metal plunger in the switch was longer in the replacement part. And the switchâ€™s spring was more compressed. And most important, the force needed to turn the ignition on and off was greater.â€
In a separate 1000+ word report on the additional recalled vehicles, the New York Times mentions that NHTSA Administrator David Friedman will also be testifying before Congress this coming week. The report notes that Friedman as well as Barra will face tough questions from lawmakers in both House and Senate committees.
The Washington Post reports that GMâ€™s â€œslow recallâ€ since becoming aware of the ignition issue â€œhas also put the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under fire for not detecting the problem and ordering a recall.â€ The report counters with NHTSAâ€™s position, however, which is that the ignition switch defect was difficult to pin down, even â€œdespite opening three special probes of accidents linked to the flawed switch.â€ Offering commentary in the report as well is one a former administrator of NHTSA, Joan Claybrook, who says, â€œWhat is so interesting to me is what the pressure of the public spotlight and the possibility of criminal penalties have done to force this company to behave.â€
The Wall Street Journal reports that GM has calculated that a preponderance of the recalled vehicles have driven more than 100,000 miles, which means that many GM dealers are eager to offer their help to potential new customers bringing their recalled vehicles into GM dealerships. Although the company has stated that dealers should not take advantage of the influx of consumers bringing their cars in for repair, the report points out that GM has unveiled a promotion of $500 cash allowance for owners of recalled vehicles wishing to trade-in their models.
Bloomberg News reports that Barclayâ€™s analyst Brian Johnson predicts that GM â€œwill probably create a fund of as much as $3 billion to pay claims associated withâ€ the ignition problems. Similarly, the head of crisis-management firm Temin & Co. Davia Temin says, â€œI donâ€™t think they have a choice in terms of creating a fund,â€ because â€œI think Mary Barra has been doing everything right up until now, and the next right thing is to create this fund before someone orders it. You have to put your money where your mouth is.â€
GM orders halt to 2013-2014 Chevy Cruze deliveries, gives no reason. USA Today reports online that â€œlate Thursday,â€ GM notified dealerships that it would â€œstop delivering 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruze compacts with 1.4-liter engines â€“ models that account for about 60% of Cruze sales.â€ Calling the action â€œa mysterious move,â€ USA Today reports that the car company â€œwonâ€™t say why it issued the order,â€ adding that â€œItâ€™s unclear how the secretive approach to details of the current order fits with the pledge of â€˜transparencyâ€™ in all GMâ€™s dealings made recentlyâ€ by Barra. GM spokesperson Alan Adler comments, â€œI have no details,â€ only divulging that â€œIâ€™m sure somebody knows.â€ Further according to the report, though, is that automakers often issue such notices of halts in vehicle deliveries, which is â€œalmost always related to a safety problem.â€
The AP reports, the GM directive for â€œdealers to stop sellingâ€ the affected Cruze cars is affecting 21,000 vehicles, â€œbut the company wonâ€™t say why.â€
House memo shows GM, regulators missed early chances to correct ignition problem. New revelations on Sunday regarding early knowledge of ignition problems in millions of GM vehicles by both the company and Federal regulators received significant media coverage.
The AP reports that a new memo â€œfrom the House subcommittee investigatingâ€ the GM recalls says that in 2005 the company â€œdiscussed two separate fixes for an ignition switch defect but canceled them without taking action.â€ The memo was put out on Sunday, â€œahead of the subcommitteeâ€™s Tuesday hearing on GMâ€™s recall of 2.6 million small cars for an ignition switch defect linked to 13 deaths.â€ The changes â€œwere later canceled because they would take too long and cost too much.â€ Later in 2005, GM â€œalso approved but then canceled a change to the key design.â€
The Detroit Free Press reports the memo said that â€œthere are indications GM approved the design of the switches in 2002 even though the company was aware they did not meet specifications.â€ Noting the 2005 action, the Free Press says that â€œrevelations raise even more questions about why GM and federal regulators didnâ€™t act sooner to address what appears to have been a longstanding problem associated with defective ignition switches linked to 13 deaths and 31 crashes.â€
Reuters reports that Rep. Tim Murphy (R), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committeeâ€™s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, said that the documents portray an â€œunsettling pictureâ€ of the handling of the ignition problems.
NHTSA group opted not to pursue issue in 2007. In a brief piece, NBC Nightly News reported that â€œfederal safety officials declined to launch a federal investigation into the problem more than six years ago, even after being presented by evidence about complaints and crashes.â€
The New York Times reports that officials at NHTSAâ€™s Office of Defects Investigation â€œdecided not to initiate a formal investigation of problems with the ignition switchesâ€ of the GM vehicles â€œeven after an investigative group reported that it knew about 29 complaints, four fatal crashes and 14 field reports that showed the problem was preventing air bags from deploying,â€ according to the House memo. That information was presented to the Office of Defects Investigation in 2007, but the regulators â€œtold committee staff investigators that â€˜the panel did not identify any discernible trend and decided not to pursue a more formal investigation.â€™â€
The Wall Street Journal reports that in response to the memo, NHTSA said it â€œreviewed data from a number of sources in 2007, but the data we had available at the time did not warrant a formal investigation.â€ The NHTSA acting chief is expected to testify this week before both House and Senate panels.
The Los Angeles Times reports that despite concerns about airbag failures, â€œfederal regulators twice declined to open formal investigations to determine the cause, according to a congressional investigation into delays in recalling the vehicles.â€ NHTSA and the DOJ â€œhave opened investigations into why it took so long for GM to recall the vehicles. Documents indicate the company knew about the problem as early as 2001.â€
Bloomberg News reports an NHTSA manager â€œrecommended almost seven years ago investigating why air bags in someâ€ GM cars â€œwerenâ€™t deploying, a memo issued by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee shows.
We believe that obtaining legal satisfaction from those who harmed you shouldnâ€™t require more hardship. Thatâ€™s why we do everything we can to streamline the process, and we will file a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary. If you or a loved one has been affected by this recall, and you believe it caused an injury, contact Chhabra & Gibbs today by going to www.cglawms.com or by calling this number: 601-948-8005.