The vehicles which have not been recalled include fullsize
crossovers such as the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse made
from 2007 to the present, which share a switch with recalled
late-model Chevrolet Camaros and Cadillac CTSs. Two other switch
designs are in other sets of vehicles.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said that factors including the kinds of
suspension used in different vehicles could explain why a switch
that accidentally turned off in one type would not turn off in
another, but he said there was no single reason.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the auto
industry regulator, is "in communication with GM about this," the
agency told Reuters, without describing what it said to GM.
Former NHTSA head Joan Claybrook said GM, which has recalled nearly
15 million cars this year over switch issues, has not explained
precisely why a single switch design would work differently in
different vehicles and that it should release the results of vehicle
safety tests so that consumers and independent engineers can review
Crash data submitted by GM to federal regulators did not appear to
show an unusual number of fatalities for the unrecalled cars.
The unrecalled models passed eight "dynamic" tests, such as driving
over potholes with a key weighed down by a heavy key ring, and
additional tests, including one to see if the switch and key can
resist turning off when bumped by a driver's knee, GM's Adler said.
Recalled vehicles failed.
"We do not believe there is an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle
safety in vehicles we did not recall," Adler said.
Sheryar Durrani, a former NHTSA project engineer who has worked as
an engineering consultant for the auto industry, said design
differences, including the location of the ignition switches and
keys, could mean the need to recall some vehicles might not be as
high as for others.
Durrani reviewed a description of GM's tests and said that without a
full and public explanation of why switches failed in the recalled
vehicles but not in other vehicles, GM left unclear whether it had
found "the true root cause of the failure."
[to top of second column]
A GM engineer in a 2005 internal email released in late June by
Congress indicated that cars sharing another switch should be
recalled. Engineer Laura Andres told GM colleagues that a 2006
Chevrolet Impala shut down when she hit a pothole, in what a
technician described as a switch issue.
“I think this is a serious safety problem, especially if this switch
is on multiple programs. I’m thinking big recall," Andres wrote. She
could not be reached for comment.
The same week a congressional committee released the Andres email,
GM recalled a new group of vehicles, including the 2006-2013 Impala
and the 2005-2009 Buick LaCrosse, for switch issues. But it has not
recalled the 2005-2009 Chevrolet Uplander and Pontiac Montana, which
use the same switch design as the LaCrosse.
A third ignition switch design found widespread use in more than 6
million older GM vehicles, including the recalled 2000-2005
Chevrolet Impala and 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu. Unrecalled models
with the same switch design include the 2000-2002 Chevrolet Lumina,
the 1997-1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass and the 1997-1998 Oldsmobile
Adler said the Uplander, Montana, Lumina, Cutlass and Achieva passed
all the tests and were not recalled.
(Editing by Peter Henderson)
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