General Motors is set to begin replacing the ignition switches in 2.6 million recalled small vehicles starting today. GM is replacing the part after 13 deaths and 32 crashes could be linked to the defective switch, which allows the key to be jostled out of place while the car is in motion, shutting off the vehicle’s power.
“Customers this week will be receiving letters letting them know parts are at dealers and to schedule an appointment,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said.
The first announcement in regards to the recall was made in early February, and called for about 1.6 million vehicles to be brought back to dealers to replace the faulty switch. That number grew by another million last month, after GM announced it would also include those models which already underwent ignition switch repairs in the past. The reasoning for this was the replacement part used the same part number as the old faulty part, so GM has no way of knowing which cars were repaired and which weren’t. Congress said this is evidence GM tried to cover-up the existence of the faulty switch.
“There is no reason to keep the same part number unless you’re trying to hide the fact that you’ve got a defective switch out there that in fact ended up killing a number of people on our highways,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in an interview with ABC News.
GM initially planned to have the repairs completed by the end of October, but now the date may have to be adjusted after the decision to go after the previously repaired vehicles as well was given the green light. CEO Mary Barra has expressed her dissatisfaction with the situation and said she doesn’t know who approved the decision to make a new part and not give it a new part number.
“That is an unacceptable practice. That is not how we do business,” she said.
GM has asked ignition supplier Delphi Corp. to add a third production line to their plant to build the additional ignition switches in a more timely manner.