The bad news for General Motors just keeps rolling in, even when some people wonder if the automaker has reached bottom. This time, Automotive News has pointed out that documents submitted by GM to federal regulators show that the company acted slowly to correct defects with smaller vehicles like the Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt. Larger and more expensive models, including SUVs, trucks and luxury vehicles were placed at the front of the line for recall fixes.
Such a practice might make good business sense to some, but to others it’s just another example of how GM not only mismanaged addressing safety issues it knew about years ago, but also cleaning up those problems today.
For example, GM recently announced that some Cadillac SRX and CTS models have been recalled for ignition switch issues. That recall came about after employees test driving the models were able to turn off the ignition by bumping their knee against the keys using a method that has been described as competitive in nature. The recall came about even though there are no records of consumer complaints or incidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the parts supplier Delphi Automotive.
Contrast that response with how engineers handled numerous complaints from consumers for the Ion and Cobalt. The ignition switch issue, which also involved the driver’s knee bumping the keys and switching the ignition to the “off” position, was labeled as a something that was inconvenient for owners, rather than labeling it a safety problem. As Automotive News points out, the actions indicate that employees were averse to raising concerns on vehicles that have small profit margins, like the Cobalt and Ion, versus models that have much larger profit margins, like the two Cadillacs.