GM recalls more than half a million Camaros, safety crisis deepens

June 15, 2014 - 1:47:46 am
A 2014 Chevrolet Camaro in Thurmont, Maryland.

DETROIT: General Motors Co recalled 511,528 Chevrolet Camaros on Friday for an ignition switch problem similar to the defect linked to at least 13 deaths in Chevrolet Cobalts and other models.

GM said it was aware of minor accidents but no fatalities from the Camaro, a sporty two-door car. It said the Camaro switch defect differed from the problem in the Cobalts, but a consumer advocate said GM still should have recalled the Camaros sooner.

GM said a driver’s knee could bump the Camaro key fob and move the ignition switch out of the “run” position, causing the engine to shut off. The earlier recall of Cobalts and other small cars involved an ignition switch in which a bump of the key fob could turn off the engine, disabling power steering and airbags.

That defect, first observed by GM engineers in 2002, was not reported to consumers for years. Chief Executive Mary Barra in recent months overhauled the way GM handles safety recalls.

The Camaro recall bloats the number of GM vehicles summoned back for switch-related problems to more than 3.1 million as Barra prepares to return to Congress next week to give more testimony on the earlier recall.

“It is troubling that GM continues to announce ignition switch-related recalls on late-model vehicles (which) raises questions about how pervasive the problem is and why it is taking so long for GM to act,” said Representative Henry Waxman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is investigating GM.

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 decision-making process. The so-called Valukas report, made public last week, triggered the departures of 15 GM employees, including several high-ranking executives in the legal, engineering and public policy groups.

GM’s 3.1 million switch-related recalls are a fraction of the record 16.5 million cars the automaker has recalled this year in 38 actions. That’s about as many cars as the entire auto industry expects to sell this year in the United States. The switch problem in this recall, of Camaros from model years 2010 to 2014, is “not at all related to the Cobalt,” GM safety spokesman Alan Adler said in an interview. “The condition here is a switchblade key” in which a key pops out of the key fob when a small button is depressed. Reuters