The past few weeks haven't been particularly kind to General Motors. Not only has the company launched a massive recall of 1.62 million vehicles, it's also faced serious criticism from U.S. legislators for its leaden response to the underlying problem behind the recall -- a problem that has been linked to at least 12 deaths.
In response, GM's new CEO, Mary Barra, is working to create a sense of transparency and trust. As you'll see from her video message to GM employees (embedded above), she's attempting to maintain open lines of communications with customers, employees, Congress, and dealers.
Barra's proactive attitude may also explain why GM has now recalled roughly 1.6 million more vehicles for a range of reasons. The new additions include:
- 2009-2014 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans with a gross vehicle weight below 10,000 pounds (number affected: 303,000). According to a press release from GM, these Express and Savana models "do not comply with a head impact requirement for unrestrained occupants". GM isn't specific about the fix for this problem, saying only that it will require "a rework of the passenger instrument panel material".
- 2013-2014 Cadillac XTS sedan (number affected: 63,900). The XTS suffers from a problem with the brake booster pump, which can result in an electrical short that "could lead to overheating, melting of plastic components and a possible engine compartment fire". GM has received two reports of engine compartment fires -- both in unsold vehicles at dealerships -- and two additional reports of melted components. The company doesn't offer any details about its fix for this issue.
- 2008-2013 Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia; 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse; 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook (number affected: 1.18 million). These four models suffer from a problem with a wiring harness associated with the airbag system. Over time, the harness can degrade the quality of the wiring, which could prevent the seat-mounted side air bags and front center air bag from deploying. It could also disable seat belt pretensioners. To address the problem, GM says that "dealers will remove the driver and passenger side air bag wiring harness connectors and splice and solder the wires together".
GM doesn't give a precise schedule for these recalls, but given the seriousness of the underlying problems and Barra's desire to get out in front of these issues, we'd expect fixes to begin sooner rather than later.
Between these recalls and those of "Switchgate", GM expects to write down a charge of roughly $300 million during the first quarter of 2014. We'll let you know in a couple of weeks how that affects the automakers' bottom line.