June 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

GM says Impala ignition recall linked to Chinese-made parts

2006 Chevrolet Impala SS. The automaker said in a notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the ignition parts for the Impala, Monte Carlo and other cars were built in China by Dalian Alps Electronics Company LTD. (GM)

General Motors Co. said Tuesday a Chinese auto supplier built the parts at issue in its recall of 3.4 million cars for ignition switch problems linked to eight crashes and six injuries.

The June 16 ignition recall of the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo; Cadillac DTS and Deville; and Buick LaCrosse and Lucerne is similar to GM’s delayed recall of 2.6 million Cobalts, Ions and other cars linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes due to faulty ignition switches.

The automaker said in a notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the ignition parts for the Impala, Monte Carlo and other cars were built in China by Dalian Alps Electronics Company LTD. GM said it will provide a detailed chronology of the events leading up to the recall by July 3.

Unlike the Cobalt recall, GM dealers will not replace the ignition switches of cars in the later recall. Instead, it will install two 13mm key rings and a key insert into all involved vehicle’s ignition keys. GM told NHTSA it will not reimburse owners for any previous ignition repairs, since GM says this remedy was not previously available.

GM said in a June 20 notice to dealers that just 2,504 Impalas remained in dealer inventories. GM said those previous-generation Chevrolet Impala cars are sold to daily rental fleets as the Impala Limited.

At a congressional hearing last week, Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, disclosed that a GM employee, Laura Andres, alerted the automaker in 2005 to what she considered a serious safety issue related to an ignition switch problem in a 2006 Chevrolet Impala — which is part of the ignition recall. NHTSA also received more than 100 complaints from Impala owners related to stalling.

Andres notified GM in 2005 that a 2006 Chevrolet Impala shut off while she was driving about 45 miles per hour. She sent the complaint through a number of channels; an email exchange titled “Hot Alert for the 2006 Chevy Impala Special” eventually made its way to Ray DeGiorgio, who designed the ignition switch for the 2.59 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other cars that were recalled.

“I think this is a serious safety problem, especially if this switch is on multiple programs,” Andres wrote in an October 2005 email. “I’m thinking big recall. I was driving 45 mph when I hit the pothole and the car shut off and I had a car driving behind me that swerved around me. I don’t like to imagine a customer driving with their kids in the back seat, on I-75 and hitting a pothole, in rush-hour traffic. I think you should seriously consider changing this part to a switch with a stronger detent.”

GM confirmed DeGiorgio designed the ignition switch in those vehicles. He was among the 15 employees GM dismissed after completion of its internal investigation led by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas.

In addition to the Impalas and other cars recalled June 16, GM on June 13 recalled more than 510,000 current-generation Camaros for ignition switch problems linked to three crashes in which air bags failed to deploy.

GM has recalled a record 20 million vehicles worldwide this year with more recalls likely before the end of the month, including 17.7 million in the United States in 44 campaigns. The Justice Department, Securities and Exchange Commission and a dozen state attorneys general are investigating. A Senate panel is expected to hold a hearing next month.