GM Recall Linked To 303 Deaths, Watchdog Group Claims, Problems Date Back To 2001

A transportation watchdog group says that the GM recall involving over one million vehicles is responsible for at least 303 deaths. The auto maker says the report is not accurate and distorts raw crash information.

The Center for Auto Safety — an organization that keeps consumers informed about auto safety issues — claims that the number of accidents related to the GM recall is far larger than reported by the Detroit-based manufacturer.

In the statement that announced the problem, the company said that 12 deaths had occurred because of faulty ignition switches, which caused the car to shut down while driving and disabled the air bags.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that GM disputes the watchdog group findings and claims not all deaths were due to the ignition problems.

The company said in a statement:

“Without rigorous analysis, it is pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions. In contrast, research is underway at GM and the investigation of the ignition switch recall and the impact of the defective switch is ongoing.”

The Center four Auto Safety commissioned a review of air bags failure cases between 2003 and 2013 to be conducted by Friedman Research Corporation.

The GM recall involved the 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5; the 2003-07 Saturn Ions, the 2006-07 Chevrolet HHRs, the 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice, and the 2007 Saturn Sky.

According to the American auto maker the 12 deaths were linked to the recalled GM models and it originally admitted the problems dated back to 2003, however, reports now indicate that the company knew there were problems with the faulty ignition switches as far back as 2001.

Moreover, Delphi Automotive — who makes the part at the crux of the 1.6 million vehicle recall — says that the defective piece only costs a few dollars and minutes to install, which raises the question, why was the problem not taken care of earlier?

The auto parts maker told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that it expects to spend $2 to $5 to produce the switch and a few minutes for GM mechanics to “swap out” the part.

Due to the failure to act promptly, GM now faces three separate investigations, including a criminal probe.

In a separate statement related to the GM recall spokesman Greg Martin offered a cash allowance to customers affected:

“In keeping with our commitment to help customers involved in this recall, a special, $500 cash allowance is available to purchase or lease a new GM vehicle. We have been very clear in our message to dealers that this allowance is not a sales tool and it is only to be used to help customers in need of assistance. Neither GM, nor its dealers will market or solicit owners using this allowance.”

The subcommittee on consumer protection, announced plans to hold a hearing in April to investigate the GM recall and the company also faces a probe from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration about the timeline that led to the GM recall announcement on February 13.

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