Monday, March 31, 2014

GM expands vehicle recall by 971,000 cars built 2007-2011.

In continuing coverage of the General Motors vehicle recalls over problems with ignition switches, the volume of coverage erupted following GM’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 government’s response in both DOT and Congress.
        The CBS Evening News (3/28, story 5, 1:50, Pelley, 5.58M) broadcast that early yesterday evening, GM announced it would be enlarging the number of vehicles so that the list “includes newer models.” CBS reporter Jeff Glor says, “it’s a recall of every single car manufactured under six different models,” recalling 971,000 more cars. The broadcast continues, GM counts “at least 12 deaths in 31 crashes” because of the problem, although the company “didn’t start the recalls until last month,” 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 “in two weeks, but they could take months to complete.”
        NBC Nightly News (3/28, story 5, 1:35, Williams, 7.86M) broadcast that the cars in this latest recall “were 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,” but “unlike the older vehicles no deaths have been officially linked to these models.” The broadcast explains that GM is taking “an abundance of caution” in dealing with the issue. Also, yesterday, GM further “told dealers to stop selling 2013 and 2014 models of the Chevy Cruze with 1.4 liter turbo engines” but “has not given a reason for that order.”
        In a long “AP Impact” report, the AP (3/29, Krisher, Durbin) focuses on how NHTSA handled 164 complaints submitted by 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt drivers since 2005, which “was far more” complaints “than any of the car’s competitors from the same model years, except for Toyota Corolla, which was recalled after a government investigation in 2010.” 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 “internal investigation” of the agency’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 “failed to properly carry out its safety mission based on the data available to it and the processes followed.” Foxx also “said that GM didn’t give the government enough information.” Still, the report makes a point to say “sometimes NHTSA acts quickly ... the agency investigated electric car maker Tesla Motors after just two reports of vehicle fires and no injuries.” The AP (3/29) also reports under the headline “Major Events In GM’s Recall Of 1.6 Million Cars.”
        Bold Ride (3/28, Kennedy, 96K) reports online that “NHTSA has had its staff cut by one fifth and its budget ‘stagnate’ in the years since the Ford Explorer safety scandal in 2000,” after which Congress passed a law to bolster the agency’s investigation powers. The report is sympathetic with the staff cuts, saying that “51 versus 248 million,” or the estimated number of cars in the US, “is a lop-sided contest, no matter the competition,” continuing by saying the agency “is terribly underfunded and understaffed.”

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