GM Changes Mind About Airbag Recall, Ignition Switches

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
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gm changes mind about airbag recall ignition switches

Automotive News reports General Motors, already being hammered from all sides from its delayed recall of 2.59 million vehicles affected by a defect in the ignition switch, issued a customer-satisfaction campaign in mid-March of this year for 1.2 million crossovers whose airbags may fail to deploy in a side-impact crash, an issue known to the automaker since 2008. Once the National Highway Traffic Safety learned of the decision, however, GM did an about-face and upgraded the campaign to a full recall. In addition, its Executive Field Action Decision Committee considered a full recall as early as November 2010, opting to issue service bulletins four times between then and 2012 instead, which spokesman Alan Adler claims satisfied the issue thoroughly without the need for increased action.

Bloomberg says GM is tying its executive incentive packages based on earnings, global market share and quality. The plan was originally announced in February as a work-in-progress during a statement about a proposed pay package of $14.4 million with $10 million in long-term compensation for CEO Mary Barra, which will be decided upon during the automaker’s annual stockholders meeting in June. In the current announcement, GM believes that linking executive pay “to the achievement of both short- and long-term goals” will serve as “an important cornerstone of employee engagement.”

As for the switch itself, its time may have finally come as GM considers dropping the ignition key for push-button start throughout the automaker’s entire range, a technology found in 72 percent of all 2014 vehicles sold in the United States. The move would put it in line with consumers who view the button “as a convenience and a luxury feature” according to senior editor Bill Visnic, adding that the ignition switch “is a very fussy, electro-mechanical part that’s seen [by consumers] as less reliable.” Potential issues surround the push-button start, however, including length of time between action and reaction, as well as drivers remembering to shut the engine down prior to departing the vehicle.

Finally, Automotive News reports most dealers may never see a recalled vehicle enter their service bays, as many affected owners either never receive the recall notice or receive the document, but end up tossing or otherwise forgetting about the recall. Further, even with a recall in the headlines like the one GM is still working through, some owners may not have the inclination to go through with repairs, whether due to time, other priorities or apathy.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • CJinSD CJinSD on Apr 30, 2014

    I wonder if GM left all these dangerous cars on the road because they were waiting to give their partners at the NHTSA a chance to make recalls synonymous with Toyota and Honda. GM having to recall cars for real safety issues would have put a crimp in their various shills' efforts to equate recalls of 10 year old cars for discolored wire insulators and 7 year old cars for tire wear with poor quality.

  • Segfault Segfault on Apr 30, 2014

    I agree that keyless ignition is the way of the future. It's a great convenience feature. Typical GM, they are late to the party on that. They only recently started using switchblade key/remotes, which I think Mercedes started using in the early 1990s (VW and Audi had them by the late 1990s).

    • Kyree Kyree on May 01, 2014

      "Typical GM, they are late to the party on that. They only recently started using switchblade key/remotes, which I think Mercedes started using in the early 1990s (VW and Audi had them by the late 1990s)." There had been a few foreign-designed GM models that used switchblade keys (Saturn Astra, Pontiac G8), but they made a mass appearance at GM North America when the Global-A electronics architecture in 2010 debuted with the Camaro, LaCrosse, Enclave and Terrain. That architecture now encompasses almost all of GM's consumer vehicles, with the exception of the Lambdas...therefore the Lambdas still use the old, non-switchblade keyfob. Really, though, most non-European manufacturers weren't and haven't been using switchblade keys. Mercedes-Benz seems to have started it, but they actually *dropped* it in the early aughts when that laser key debuted Volkswagen's been using basically the same fob for years with minor design changes, and that basic fob has also been ported to all of Volkswagen's brands at some point...Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti. Volvo's probably came out around 2004 or so, and it's still used on the XC90. Jaguar had one for a while, in the S-Type and the previous XJ. So did Land Rover. Mazda probably started using folding fobs around 2006, though they were modified Ford units. Fiat came to the U.S. with its stylish flip key. I've seen flipkeys in some non-smart-key Hyundai/Kia models (like the 2010-present Santa Fe and the previous and current Soul), and Ford now offers one on the Focus, non-smart-key Fusion, and probably the 2015 Mustang and F-150 as well. Really, I wouldn't say GM (who, again, was using flip fobs in *other* markets for quite some time) was all that late. The Japanese still *don't* use them, preferring either the integrated fob/blade design (Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Honda) or just a plain detached key fob (Nissan).

  • Marty S Corey, thanks for your comment. Mercedes has many different models, and will survive. Jaguar is planning on only offering electric models and will be in trouble. They should continue their ICE models as long as possible, but have discontinued the F-Type already and will probably be discontinuing everything else. We purchased the current XF this year, which is a nice car, but would have been splendid if they had just continued the supercharged V-6 in it.By the way, I have really enjoyed your Continental and Eldorado series. Was just showing it to my barber, who owned several 1954-56 Eldorado convertibles.
  • Marques My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.
  • VoGhost This is the only new vehicle I have the slightest interest in.
  • VoGhost I love it. Can't wait to get one. Finally, trucks are becoming actually capable, and it's great for America.
  • Peter Just waiting for Dr. Who to show up with his Tardis, and send these things back to the hellish dark dimension from which they came.