GM Recalls 312,280 More Autos for Switches, Other Fixes

General Motors Co., which before today had recalled almost 29 million cars and trucks in North America this year, flagged 312,280 more, including Saturn VUE sport-utility vehicles and Cadillac ATS, for fixes.

The largest of the six actions announced today involves about 215,000 of the Saturn SUVs from model year 2002 through 2004. The VUEs are being recalled because the ignition key can be removed when the vehicle is on, Detroit-based GM said today in an e-mailed statement.

The company said it is aware of two crashes and one injury potentially related to the issue.

The biggest U.S. automaker is stepping up the pace of recalls as it faces multiple investigations for its slowness in calling back 2.59 million small cars with ignition flaws linked to at least 13 deaths. Congress and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating why it took GM more than a decade to recall the vehicles. Since that action began in February, the company has recalled other cars for similar issues and to address a wide range of problems.

Before today, the automaker had already surpassed the record for U.S. safety fixes by an automaker in a calendar year. GM’s recall tally was 25.5 million for the U.S. and 28.8 million for North America. That eclipses Ford Motor Co.’s single-year record of 23.3 million in 2001.

Smaller Recalls

Today’s recalls also include 72,826 Cadillac ATS sedans, Chevy Trax SUVs and Buick Encore SUVs from the 2013 model year to fix front lap belt pretensioners. GM said it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue. The vehicles were placed on a stop sale for unsold models at dealerships until the repairs are made, GM said in the statement.

About 15,000 Chevy Impalas from model year 2014 and 2015 were called back to fix latches on a front console storage compartment that may not remain closed during a collision. GM said it isn’t aware of any crashes or injuries because it.

GM also recalled about 2,000 Chevrolet Aveos from model year 2009-2010 and Chevrolet Optra from 2007 and Pontiac G3 cars from 2009 for reduced break performance. About 3,000 2014 Chevy Sparks were recalled for lower control arms with bolts that may not be tightened to specifications. About 3,600 Cadillac ATS exports from model years 2013 and 2014 were also recalled for front exterior lighting.

Repair Costs

On July 24, GM said it would set aside at least $400 million to pay victims of the 2.59 million small cars. While the amount may rise to $600 million, Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer managing the program, will ultimately decide the cost, said Chuck Stevens, GM’s chief financial officer. Feinberg managed similar funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the BP Plc oil spill.

“There is no cap on the program,” Stevens told reporters at the company’s headquarters.

So far 125 claims have been filed, involving 63 fatalities, the Detroit Free Press reported today.

GM’s profit for the first six months tumbled 81 percent to $491 million from a year earlier as the company addresses the issue. In the second quarter, it spent $1.2 billion on recall-related costs and took $1.3 billion of one-time charges. Those costs were in addition to the $1.3 billion GM spent in the first quarter to address the problems.

Mary Barra, chief executive officer, told analysts on July 24 that she believes the company’s heightened effort to review past safety issues, including looking at vehicles going back to the 1990s, was “substantially complete.” Still, the company will act if it finds other problems, she said.

“We have now addressed some major outstanding issues,” Barra said on a conference call. “But if we see new data, we will address it.”

GM rose 1.3 percent to $33.53 at the close in New York. The shares have fallen 18 percent this year.

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