A recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles by auto manufacturer General Motors has set off intense scrutiny of the auto giant’s safety practices. An investigation into the recall, which addressed faulty ignition switches in multiple models of GM passenger vehicles, revealed that some of the company’s employees were aware of the issue nearly a decade ago.
The faulty ignition switch in the affected vehicles could unexpectedly shut off the engine during driving which would result in a loss of various features including power steering and the inflation of airbags. Thousands of claims have been filed against the auto maker after more than 125 deaths and countless injury accidents resulted from the flaw. While many of the claims we for minor injuries, others were for accidents resulting in major conditions like quadriplegia, permanent brain damage or significant burns. Vehicles included in the recall are:
- All 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
- 2007-2010 Pontiac G5
- 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
- 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR
- 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
- 2007-2010 Saturn Sky
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is urging owners of these vehicles to contact General Motors immediately, and to follow safety recommendations made by the company which include to “use only the ignition key with nothing else on the key ring” until adequate repairs are made.
How Will GM Be Held Responsible for the Ignition Flaw?
A settlement with federal prosecutors holds the car maker accountable for its decade-long failure to disclose the defect. While no individual employees have been charged, two employees were singled out for playing a major role in concealing information about the fault from regulators. General Motors is now required to endure independent monitoring of its safety practices for a period of three years. Additionally, the company is required to pay the United States a penalty of $900 million. Although the penalty is just 25 percent less than the record held by Toyota, many individuals and victims’ families feel that is is not enough. They view the punishment as simply a way for the car manufacturer to buy its way out of things. As long as the company adheres to the agreement it can have its record wiped clean.
In addition to the ignition switch recall, the auto manufacturer recalled an estimated 30 million vehicles for other reasons throughout 2014 as well.