General Motors said a pattern of "incompetence and neglect" led to a decade-long defect in an ignition switch that has killed at least 13 people, and probably more.
Saturn ION Recalls
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into faulty electric power steering motors affecting 334,728 Saturn Ions from 2004-2007, because General Motors has issued a recall for them. The group's research found that the part failed at a high rate in the vehicles.
When it rains, it pours. General Motors has announced yet another major recall, covering 1.3 million units in the American market over concerns that their power steering could suddenly fail. As reported by The Detroit News' David Shepardson, GM has now recalled nearly ten times as many cars as it did all of last year.
A senior investigator within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wanted to open an investigation into defective Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models in November 2007. The director of the agency's Defects Assessment Division had spotted a trend of airbag non-deployments in the two General Motors models – early evidence of a problem included four fatal accidents, 29 complaints and 14 field reports.
US Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, is echoing the call of safety advocates in requesting that the Justice Department create a compensation fund for those killed or injured behind the wheel of General Motors vehicles with faulty ignition switches.
General Motors may be staring down another recall campaign for one of its models already embroiled in its high-profile ignition recall. The 2003-2007 Saturn Ion is already among the 1.6-million vehicles being recalled for faulty ignition switches, and now new light is being shed on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation over 2004-2007 models centering on a loss of power steering.
The ongoing investigation into General Motors' 1.6-million-car ignition recall continues to pick up steam, with most questions centering on what the company knew and when it knew it. On Tuesday, newly minted CEO Mary Barra held a press conference to directly address questions about GM's safety problems and their ramifications. In addition to public criticism and potential lawsuits, the business is facing multiple government examinations into how it handled the issue.
General Motors' ignition switch problem goes back even farther than first imagined. In a statement that the automaker submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it said that it found a case of the faulty ignition switch going back to 2001 in a pre-production Saturn Ion (pictured above). Previously, the earliest known affected vehicles were from 2004.
General Motors' problems with its recall of roughly 1.6-million vehicles continue to mount. Now that it has emerged that GM knew about the problem since at least 2004 but waited to recall vehicles until February 2014, regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have begun a much deeper investigation. NHTSA has sent a 27-page survey to GM that includes 107 questions about the timeline of what led up to the recall, and it has until April 3 to reply.
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Get recall details from the NHTSA and find out what to do if your car been recalled.