Beleaguered US car-making giant General Motors has now recalled more than 20 million vehicles across North America since the beginning of 2014, with 17.8 million in the United States alone.
The company last night announced a further six separate recall campaigns on a vast range of models sold almost entirely in the US, Canada and Mexico, bringing the total number of separate campaigns to 44 since January 13 this year.
The largest of this week’s recalls involves just under 3.4 million vehicles over a potential ignition switch fault that could see the car slip out of the ‘run’ position over bumpy roads if the driver’s keychain is too heavy.
Should this occur, the car’s brakes and steering are compromised and the sensor that deploys the airbags could fail in the event of a crash.
In addition, GM recalled a further 193,580 vehicles in five separate actions involving the shift cable, steering pump clamp, airbags and floor mats.
The latest mass recall from the embattled car maker brings its running total of North American vehicle recalls in 2014 — including exports — to 20.03 million, while the recall-related repair bill for the second quarter of this year has been uprated to about US$700 million ($745m).
For context, between January 1997 and May 2014, the total number of new passenger and commercial vehicles sold in Australia by all brands combined was 16.3 million.
The 3.4 million-vehicle ignition recall affects vehicles including the Buick Lacrosse, Lucerne and Regal, the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo and the Cadillac Deville and DTS. One, the Impala, is still being produced as a previous-generation model for rental fleets.
This largest recall also follows a review of ignition issues following the recall in February of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars, which has been linked to at least 13 deaths.
GM CEO Mary Barra is scheduled to return to the US capital of Washington this Wednesday for a second hearing before a US House panel investigating the Cobalt recall.
Earlier this month GM received the findings of an investigation by former US Attorney Anton Valukas into the Cobalt ignition switch recall, and said it planned to act on all of its recommendations.
It sacked 15 employees “who were determined to have acted inappropriately” and disciplined five others over the ignition switch problem — which GM has known about for more than a decade.
The company has also confirmed plans to set up a compensation fund for people affected by crashes involving recently recalled vehicles with the faulty switch.
Ms Barra described the report at the time as “extremely thorough, brutally tough and deeply troubling”.