1.37 million owners in the United States affected by the ignition switch recall issued by General Motors last month will be offered $500 toward the purchase or lease of a new vehicle just as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites a lack of sufficient data as the reason said recall wasn’t issued sooner.
Automotive News and Bloomberg report the cash allowance offer will apply to 2013 through 2015 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac models, with the following explanation issued to dealers in a notice delivered March 4:
GM will not market or solicit owners using this allowance. We ask that you not market to or solicit these customers either. This allowance is not a sales tool; it is to be used to help customers in need of assistance.
For owners opting to have their affected vehicles repaired, a free loaner will be made available for the duration of the repair, as well as free towing to the dealership if so requested. Said repair work is scheduled to begin early next month.
Meanwhile, NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman explained that a lack of sufficient data regarding the ignition switch behind the recall prevented his organization from forcing such a recall out of GM sooner than last month:
If we had that information, if GM had provided us with timely information, we would have been able to take a different course with this. We took several efforts to look into this data.
At the end of the day, with the data we had at that time, we didn’t think that was sufficient to open up a formal investigation.
The NHTSA is facing criticism over their lack of action as of late from both Congress — who are launching their own investigation over the recall — and former employees, such as former administrator Joan Claybrook. Claybrook asked the Transportation Department’s inspector general to look into why “no one [was] evaluating why NHTSA failed to carry out the law” in regards to the issue, which had been known in some capacity to the organization since 2006 when investigators were sent to document a high-speed fatal crash in Wisconsin involving a Chevrolet Cobalt and two women resulting from the switch cutting off engine power while preventing air-bag deployment.