GM said it was aware of minor accidents but no fatalities from the
Camaro, a sporty two-door car. It said the Camaro switch defect
differed from the problem in the Cobalts, but a consumer advocate
said GM still should have recalled the Camaros sooner.
GM said a driver's knee could bump the Camaro key fob and move the
ignition switch out of the "run" position, causing the engine to
The earlier recall of Cobalts and other small cars involved an
ignition switch in which a bump of the key fob could turn off the
engine, disabling power steering and airbags.
That defect, first observed by GM engineers in 2002, was not
reported to consumers for years. Chief Executive Mary Barra in
recent months overhauled the way GM handles safety recalls.
The Camaro recall bloats the number of GM vehicles summoned back for
switch-related problems to more than 3.1 million as Barra prepares
to return to Congress next week to give more testimony on the
"It is troubling that GM continues to announce ignition
switch-related recalls on late-model vehicles (which) raises
questions about how pervasive the problem is and why it is taking so
long for GM to act," said Representative Henry Waxman of California,
the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that
is investigating GM.
Barra will be joined by Anton Valukas, chairman of GM's outside law
firm Jenner & Block, who conducted a months-long investigation that
detailed deep flaws in GM's internal decision-making process.
The so-called Valukas report, made public last week, triggered the
departures of 15 GM employees, including several high-ranking
executives in the legal, engineering and public policy groups.
GM's 3.1 million switch-related recalls are a fraction of the record
16.5 million cars the automaker has recalled this year in 38
actions. That's about as many cars as the entire auto industry
expects to sell this year in the United States.
The switch problem in this recall, of Camaros from model years 2010
to 2014, is "not at all related to the Cobalt," GM safety spokesman
Alan Adler said in an interview. "The condition here is a
switchblade key" in which a key pops out of the key fob when a small
button is depressed.
The problem with the Camaro switch "is an external bumping issue,"
Adler said. He said it involves "an atypical seating situation. If
you sit somewhat normally and don't pull your seat way up, you are
not going to have this problem."
The Cobalt and Ion had a similar issue involving the location of the
switch on the steering column and the tendency of some drivers to
bump that switch. Some other key issues also are similar: When the
key fob is bumped and the switch is moved out of the run position,
the engine can turn off, causing loss of power steering and failure
of airbags to deploy in a crash.
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GM said it was aware of three crashes causing four minor injuries
linked to the issue in Camaro. Adler said air bags did not deploy in
those crashes and he did not know details.
GM "should have recalled" the Camaro earlier, said Clarence Ditlow,
director of the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington-based watchdog
group. "GM said it's not the same problem, but it's a first cousin,"
Adler said GM would send letters to Camaro owners, advising them to
visit dealers to get a new key made. Until then, he said GM is
advising Camaro owners to "drive the car and be aware" of the
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is
responsible for overseeing safety defects and recalls, had not yet
posted an official Camaro recall notice, but the agency has received
and posted several consumer complaints.
NHTSA said Friday afternoon it had not received GM's official recall
notice on the Camaro, but "is monitoring the issue closely."
Lawmakers have criticized NHTSA for not acting more swiftly to
recall GM small cars with defective switches.
The agency awarded the 2012-2014 Camaro five-star safety ratings,
its highest, for safety in front, side and rollover crashes.
Adler said GM discovered the issue in the Camaro as it was testing a
wide range of its 2014-2016 models after the widely publicized
small-car ignition switch recall.
Jeff Boyer, appointed to the new position of vice president for GM
global safety earlier this year in response to the small-car
ignition switch recall, said the Camaro recall was a quick action
that is "the new norm for product safety at GM," according to the
GM shares closed at $35.63, up 11 cents.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington and Thyagaraju
Adinarayan in Bangalore; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Bernadette
Baum and David Gregorio)
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