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GM to offer loaner cars, cash to small-car owners

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DETROIT (AP) — General Motors excluded the Saturn Ion from a Feb. 13 recall for faulty ignition switches after engineers inexplicably failed to look at fatal crashes involving the compact car.

The cars were recalled two weeks later, after another inquiry found four crashes involving 2004 Ions that killed four people, according to a GM chronology of the recall posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website Wednesday night.

According to the chronology, GM employees were told about most of the Ion crash deaths within two weeks of when they occurred. So GM knew about the deaths but still failed to consider them until this year.

The exclusion of the crash deaths will likely be scrutinized by two congressional committees and the Justice Department, all of which are investigating why it took so long for GM to recall the cars. The company has acknowledged knowing about deadly ignition switches at least a decade ago, yet it failed to recall 1.6 million compact cars until last month. In addition, NHTSA is investigating whether GM withheld information from the safety agency or didn’t disclose it as quickly as required by law.

The chronology didn’t say why the engineers excluded the Ion crash deaths from their inquiry, which took place in 2011. GM spokesman Greg Martin said he could not comment on why the Ion crashes were left out. He said GM added to the recall after a review of data including crashes.

“Today’s GM is fully committed to learning from the past while embracing the highest standards for quality and performance now and in the future,” he said in a statement.

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007). All of the recalled cars have the same ignition switches.

The company said the ignition switches can wear from heavy, dangling keys. If the key chains are bumped or people drive on rough surfaces, the switches can suddenly change from the “run” position to “accessory” or “off.” That cuts off power-assisted steering and brakes and could cause drivers to lose control. Also, the air bags may not inflate in a crash and protect the driver and passengers.

The company is urging people not to put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

The chronology also hints at problems with the ignition switches surfacing as early as 2001 as the Ion was being developed. But engineers thought they had fixed the trouble with a design change. The company also had reports of Ions stalling in 2003 because of ignitions that could slip unexpectedly out of the run position.

Also Wednesday, GM said it would offer to owners of the recalled cars free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle. The offers are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

GM now counts 12 people as having died in crashes linked to the problem. The company said Wednesday that one victim had been double-counted.

Shares of GM have fallen 7.3 percent this week amid word of new investigations. The stock fell 32 cents, or 0.9 percent, to close at $34.86 on Wednesday.

GM to offer loaner cars, cash to small-car owners

KDWN

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect.

But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits.

The offers, disclosed in a document posted Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

GM last month announced the recall of 1.6 million older small cars worldwide because faulty ignitions can shut off engines unexpectedly. If the engines shut off, drivers can lose power steering and power brakes, and the air bags may not inflate if there’s a crash.

GM now counts 12 people as having died in crashes linked to the problem. The company said Wednesday that one victim had been double-counted.

GM is facing a Department of Justice investigation, as well as investigations from two congressional committees and federal safety regulators over its handling of the recall. The company has admitted that it knew about the problem a decade ago.

Committees in the House and Senate also want to know why the government’s road safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, didn’t take action sooner.

The loaner/rebate program is part of GM’s damage control efforts. Last week, CEO Mary Barra promised that an internal review would bring improvements and prevent similar problems in the future. She also said current management is intent on “taking great care of our customers and showing that it really is a new day at GM.”

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007).

In a separate document released Wednesday night, GM tried to explain why the Ion, HHR, Solstice and Sky weren’t included in the Feb. 13 recall, even though they have the same ignition switches as the Cobalt and G5. Engineers examining the four models in 2011 inexplicably did not look at crash data for the 2004 Ion. But early this year, another inquiry found four crashes involving 2004 Ions in which four people were killed. Air bags did not inflate in those crashes.

The document says GM employees were told of most of these crashes within two weeks of when they occurred.

GM spokesman Greg Martin said he could not comment on why the 2004 Ion crashes were excluded from the 2011 inquiry. In a statement, he said GM decided to do a more in-depth analysis of the four additional models after the Cobalt and G5 recall.

The exclusion of the fatal crashes almost certainly will be examined by prosecutors and congressional committees investigating the recalls.

Also Wednesday, GM told dealers that in situations where an owner is concerned about driving their car and asks for a loaner, service managers can give them one until repair parts arrive.

Dealers are also instructed to tell owners who ask that GM isn’t offering to buy back their car. But the company will offer the owners cash toward buying or leasing a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle.

The allowance “is intended to assist those customers who are unhappy and may want to trade out of their vehicle,” the document said. “This special cash allowance is not a sales tool.”

GM says a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position. The company is urging people not to put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

Shares of GM have fallen 7.3 percent this week amid word of new investigations. The stock fell 32 cents, or 0.9 percent, to close at $34.86 on Wednesday.

GM to offer loaner cars, cash to small-car owners

KDWN

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect.

But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits.

The offers, disclosed in a document posted Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

GM last month announced the recall of 1.6 million older small cars worldwide because faulty ignitions can shut off engines unexpectedly. If the engines shut off, drivers can lose power steering and power brakes, and the air bags may not inflate if there’s a crash.

GM now counts 12 people as having died in crashes linked to the problem. The company said Wednesday that one victim had been double-counted.

GM is facing a Department of Justice investigation, as well as investigations from two congressional committees and federal safety regulators over its handling of the recall. The company has admitted that it knew about the problem a decade ago.

Committees in the House and Senate also want to know why the government’s road safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, didn’t take action sooner.

The loaner/rebate program is part of GM’s damage control efforts. Last week, CEO Mary Barra promised that an internal review would bring improvements and prevent similar problems in the future. She also said current management is intent on “taking great care of our customers and showing that it really is a new day at GM.”

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007).

In a separate document released Wednesday night, GM tried to explain why the Ion, HHR, Solstice and Sky weren’t included in the Feb. 13 recall, even though they have the same ignition switches as the Cobalt and G5. Engineers examining the four models in 2011 inexplicably did not look at crash data for the 2004 Ion. But early this year, another inquiry found four crashes involving 2004 Ions in which four people were killed. Air bags did not inflate in those crashes.

The document says GM employees were told of most of these crashes within two weeks of when they occurred.

GM spokesman Greg Martin said he could not comment on why the 2004 Ion crashes were excluded from the 2011 inquiry. In a statement, he said GM decided to do a more in-depth analysis of the four additional models after the Cobalt and G5 recall.

The exclusion of the fatal crashes almost certainly will be examined by prosecutors and congressional committees investigating the recalls.

Also Wednesday, GM told dealers that in situations where an owner is concerned about driving their car and asks for a loaner, service managers can give them one until repair parts arrive.

Dealers are also instructed to tell owners who ask that GM isn’t offering to buy back their car. But the company will offer the owners cash toward buying or leasing a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle.

The allowance “is intended to assist those customers who are unhappy and may want to trade out of their vehicle,” the document said. “This special cash allowance is not a sales tool.”

GM says a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position. The company is urging people not to put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

Shares of GM have fallen 7.3 percent this week amid word of new investigations. The stock fell 32 cents, or 0.9 percent, to close at $34.86 on Wednesday.

GM to offer loaner cars, cash to small-car owners

KDWN

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect.

But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits.

The offers, disclosed in a document posted Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

GM last month announced the recall of 1.6 million older small cars worldwide because faulty ignitions can shut off engines unexpectedly. If the engines shut off, drivers can lose power steering and power brakes, and the air bags may not inflate if there’s a crash.

GM now counts 12 people as having died in crashes linked to the problem. The company said Wednesday that one victim had been double-counted.

GM is facing a Department of Justice investigation, as well as investigations from two congressional committees and federal safety regulators over its handling of the recall. The company has admitted that it knew about the problem a decade ago.

Committees in the House and Senate also want to know why the government’s road safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, didn’t take action sooner.

The loaner/rebate program is part of GM’s damage control efforts. Last week, CEO Mary Barra promised that an internal review would bring improvements and prevent similar problems in the future. She also said current management is intent on “taking great care of our customers and showing that it really is a new day at GM.”

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007).

In the document disclosed Wednesday, GM tells dealers that in situations where an owner is concerned about driving their car and asks for a loaner, service managers can give them one until repair parts arrive.

Dealers are also instructed to tell owners who ask that GM isn’t offering to buy back their car. But the company will offer the owners cash toward buying or leasing a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle.

The allowance “is intended to assist those customers who are unhappy and may want to trade out of their vehicle,” the document said. “This special cash allowance is not a sales tool.”

GM says a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position. The company is urging people not to put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

Shares of GM have fallen 7.3 percent this week amid word of new investigations. The stock fell 24 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $34.94 in late-day trading Wednesday.

GM to offer loaner cars, cash to small-car owners

KDWN

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect.

But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits.

The offers, disclosed in a document posted Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

GM last month announced the recall of 1.6 million older small cars worldwide because faulty ignitions can shut off engines unexpectedly. GM says 13 people have died in crashes linked to the problem. If the engines shut off, drivers can lose power steering and power brakes, and the air bags may not inflate if there’s a crash.

GM is facing a Department of Justice investigation, as well as investigations from two congressional committees and federal safety regulators over its handling of the recall. The company has admitted that it knew about the problem a decade ago.

Committees in the House and Senate also want to know why the government’s road safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, didn’t take action sooner.

The loaner/rebate program is part of GM’s damage control efforts. Last week, CEO Mary Barra promised that an internal review would bring improvements and prevent similar problems in the future. She also said current management is intent on “taking great care of our customers and showing that it really is a new day at GM.”

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007).

In the document disclosed Wednesday, GM tells dealers that in situations where an owner is concerned about driving their car and asks for a loaner, service managers can give them one until repair parts arrive.

Dealers are also instructed to tell owners who ask that GM isn’t offering to buy back their car. But the company will offer the owners cash toward buying or leasing a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle.

The allowance “is intended to assist those customers who are unhappy and may want to trade out of their vehicle,” the document said. “This special cash allowance is not a sales tool.”

GM says a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position. The company is urging people not to put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

GM to offer loaner cars, cash to small-car owners

KDWN

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect.

But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits.

The offers, disclosed in a document posted Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

GM last month announced the recall of 1.6 million older small cars worldwide because faulty ignitions can shut off engines unexpectedly. GM says 13 people have died in crashes linked to the problem. If the engines shut off, drivers can lose power steering and power brakes, and the air bags may not inflate if there’s a crash.

GM is facing a Department of Justice investigation, as well as investigations from two congressional committees and federal safety regulators over its handling of the recall. The company has admitted that it knew about the problem a decade ago.

Committees in the House and Senate also want to know why the government’s road safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, didn’t take action sooner.

The loaner/rebate program is part of GM’s damage control efforts. Last week, CEO Mary Barra promised that an internal review would bring improvements and prevent similar problems in the future. She also said current management is intent on “taking great care of our customers and showing that it really is a new day at GM.”

On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later it added 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007).

In the document disclosed Wednesday, GM tells dealers that in situations where an owner is concerned about driving their car and asks for a loaner, service managers can give them one until repair parts arrive.

Dealers are also instructed to tell owners who ask that GM isn’t offering to buy back their car. But the company will offer the owners cash toward buying or leasing a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle.

The allowance “is intended to assist those customers who are unhappy and may want to trade out of their vehicle,” the document said. “This special cash allowance is not a sales tool.”

GM says a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position. The company is urging people not to put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

GM to offer loaner cars, cash to small-car owners

KDWN

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors is offering free loaner cars to owners of compacts that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect.

The company also will offer a $500 cash allowance to owners who want to buy or lease a new GM vehicle.

GM made the disclosures in documents posted Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The loaners will be available until parts arrive to fix the switches. The cash offer runs through April 30.

GM says it isn’t offering to buy the cars back. But the cash offer will be made to people who don’t feel safe driving their cars.

GM is recalling 1.6 million older small cars because faulty ignitions can shut off engines unexpectedly. GM says 13 people have died in crashes linked to the problem.