February 28, 2014 at 11:40 am

GM again apologizes after 1.6M vehicles recalled

Ignition and key chain for a 2007 Saturn Ion. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)

General Motors Co.’s North America president has issued another apology to consumers following the company’s recall of 1.6 million older vehicles this month, saying GM wants to earn the trust and loyalty of its customers.

Alan Batey, GM North America president, in a letter posted late Thursday at usatoday.com, said GM now is focusing its efforts to get the vehicles fixed as quickly as possible.

“It is fair that we are getting questions about our commitment to customers when you consider the way we did business and some of the vehicles we built at times during the past decade,” Batey said in the letter. “GM has a responsibility to look back into the circumstances surrounding this recall to ensure they are not repeated and we will fully cooperate with others who do, too.

“We hope our present response serves as a better example of the company we strive to be.”

The Detroit automaker this week doubled an initial Feb. 13 recall and has now recalled more than 1.6 million vehicles, including 1.37 million sold in the U.S. for faulty ignition switches. GM knows of 13 deaths in 31 crashes in which the ignition switches apparently caused the air bags not to deploy in frontal crashes. On Feb. 13, in the initial recall of 2005-07 Chevy Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G5s, it said it knew of six deaths.

Batey also issued an apology Tuesday in a news release and Thursday GM said it deeply regretted the events that led to the recall. The automaker Thursday said it will cooperate in the timeliness investigation into the recall issued late Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recall now includes 2003-07 Saturn Ions, 2005-07 Chevy Cobalts, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2006-07 Chevy HHRs, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstices and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles in the U.S.

Batey said that while GM is focused on quality, recalls will still happen.

“When they do, our customers should expect us to do whatever we can to fix their vehicle in a manner that earns their trust and loyalty,” he said.

Batey said GM wants its customers to hold the company and vehicles to a “high standard.”

“If we don't measure up, there is a senior leadership team in place that is not afraid to act to make things better,” Batey said.

GM's outside review of its handling of the recall and the issues surrounding it could result in discipline to employees involved.

GM has said the first parts to fix vehicles will be available in April. GM and NHTSA officials are urging drivers of the recalled vehicles to take everything off their key rings, including key fobs, and leave just the ignition key until the vehicle is repaired.

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David Shepardson contributed.