On the day before CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to sit before a House subcommittee to testify in regards to General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) ongoing defective ignition case, the company put out yet another recall for potentially faulty electric power steering, covering 1.3 million vehicles.
The recall effort now brings GM’s total recalled vehicles up to 6.1 million since January. It covers the Chevrolet Malibu from model years 2004 and 2005, and some model year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles; the Malibu Maxx from model years 2004 and 2005, and some 2006 models; non-turbocharged Chevrolet HHR models from 2009 and 2010; Chevrolet Cobalts from 2010; Saturn Aura sedans from model years 2008 and 2009; Saturn ION sedans from model years 2004 to 2007; and Pontiac G6 models from 2005, and some model year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles.
This is entirely separate from the 2.6 million-plus vehicles that were recalled over the well-publicized ignition switch recall, which was first launched in January and then expanded in February. It’s also separate from the million-plus vehicles recalled for airbag concerns. Suffice it to say that General Motors isn’t having a stellar year on the safety front.
It’s almost as if Barra — who took the helm from Dan Akerson in January — stumbled upon a stash of recalls that should have taken place but never did, and now the company is making up for years of not taking action. It’s believed that GM knew of the ignition switch defect as early as 2001, though it took 13 years and 13 deaths until the necessary measures were taken.
General Motors has so far hired a new safety chief to oversee production quality to ensure recalls of this severity and scope don’t happen again. In this case, the electric steering can suddenly shut off — it’s not the most disastrous defect (the car can still be maneuvered, albeit with greater effort), but still a major thorn in the side of a company that’s trying to overhaul its image with the American public. The company is also expecting a $750 million charge in the first quarter as a result of all the recalls.
“If power steering assist is lost, a message displays on the Driver Information Center and a chime sounds to inform the driver,” the company said in its statement. “Steering control can be maintained because the vehicle will revert to manual steering, but greater driver effort would be required at low vehicle speeds, which could increase the risk of a crash.”
GM also took the opportunity to say that the mass recalls are an effort by the company the clean out the cobwebs and problems of the old administrations, and get General Motors to a better place — one less clogged with safety problems, we presume.
“With these safety recalls and lifetime warranties, we are going after every car that might have this problem, and we are going to make it right,” Jeff Boyer, vice president of GM Global Vehicle Safety, said. “We have recalled some of these vehicles before for the same issue and offered extended warranties on others, but we did not do enough.”