GM’s 20 Million-Car Recall Spans Globe: Chart of the Day

General Motors Co. has recalled more cars in 2014 than it sold worldwide in the past two years -- enough to circle the earth more than twice.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, called back 20 million vehicles in North America so far in 2014, including more than 3 million just this week. The CHART OF THE DAY shows that’s about the equivalent of all the cars the Detroit-based automaker sold in the U.S. from 1920, the earliest data available, to 1947.

Set end to end, 20 million 2010 Chevrolet Cobalts -- just one of the models at the heart of the recent recall surge -- would stretch for almost 57,000 miles (92,000 kilometers). That line of cars could circle the earth about 2.25 times, or snake through the entire U.S. interstate highway system and still need an extra 10,000 miles of on-ramp.

GM has recalled more North American vehicles this year than competitors Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mazda, Audi, Mitsubishi, Volvo, Land Rover, Porsche, Mini, Jaguar and Smart have sold in the U.S. combined since 2007. Those companies have sold about 19.9 million units through 2014.

The Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 were two of the small-car models in the initial wave of 778,500 vehicles GM recalled in February because of faulty ignition switches that caused the cars to stall, cutting power to air bags. At least 13 deaths have been linked to the flaw, which triggered a wave of lawsuits, public backlash and congressional scrutiny against GM.

Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra and Anton Valukas, the former federal prosecutor who conducted an internal probe of GM examining its actions ahead of the February recall, appeared today in front of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. GM investors have stuck by the automaker, with shares rising more than more than 1.5 percent since Feb. 12, just before the first big recall.

With this week’s addition to the recall list, GM is two-thirds of the way to shattering the full-year industrywide record of 30.8 million vehicles -- by itself.

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