General Motors has told dealers in the U.S. and Canada to stop selling 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes because of a potential defect in air bags made by beleaguered air bag supplier Takata.
"Certain vehicles may be equipped with a suspect driver's air bag inflator module that may have been assembled with an incorrect part," GM spokesmen Jim Cain said in a statement. "We are working diligently with the supplier of the defective part to identify specific vehicles affected and expect to resume deliveries by the end of this week once those vehicles are identified."
GM, which notified dealers of the stop-sale order on Tuesday, said it is working to identify how many cars may have driver-side air bag with a defective part.
That issue is different from a problem with the chemical degradation of Takata airbags on older model cars that have caused seven automakers to recall nearly 10 million cars worldwide.
GM's stop-sale order, first reported by Automotive News, is the latest setback for GM which has already recalled more vehicles than in any other year in its history.
GM has been under intense scrutiny since February for a defective ignition switch in older model Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac 6, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky cars.
So far, GM's sales have continued to climb, but the suspension of sales will impact Cruze sales in the last week of June.
The latest GM stop-sale order follows one last month GM told dealers to halt delivery of about 3,500 new pickups and SUVs as the company investigates an undisclosed "issue" with the trucks.
And this is the second stop-sale order on the Cruze this year. The first was an unexplained order in March covering 2013-14 models with the 1.4-liter engine. It was followed a few days later with a recall of nearly 175,000 of the cars for a potentially defective right front axle shaft.
Takata airbag recalls for the chemical problem now total nearly 10 million vehicles worldwide since 2008. Tokyo-based Takata is one of the world's largest airbag suppliers. Its North American headquarters is in Auburn Hill, Mich. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
Honda, Mazda and Nissan on Monday recalled another about 2 million older vehicles combined in the U.S. — and nearly 3 million worldwide — as they expand their actions related to Takata air bag inflators that can explode and send metal bits flying.
Separately, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that seven automakers — these three plus Toyota, BMW, Chrysler and Ford — would conduct regional recalls for the air bags in high-humidity areas, including Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.
Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota and BMW recalled about 3.6 million vehicles worldwide in April and May last year for the problem, but supplier Takata now says the earlier recall lists may not cover all the suspect bags.
Toyota earlier this month expanded its earlier action with a recall of more than 2 million vehicles worldwide, including 766,300 in the U.S., many for the second time.
No crashes or injuries are related to the latest recalls. There are, however, two deaths linked to the inflator problem, both with Honda in the U.S. in 2009. Honda's latest action is its sixth recall related to the air bags.
The inflator problem now is connected to propellant degraded by improper storage and exposure to moisture at Takata plants in Monclova, Mexico, and Moses Lake, Wash. The problem began as early as April 13, 2000, and was fixed by Nov. 1, 2002, according to a Takata report to safety officials last year.
Takata said this month that it is studying whether vehicles used in high humidity areas have additional risk.
NHTSA opened an investigation into the issue this month and says that it knows of six incidents of ruptured bags and three injuries in high-humidity Florida and Puerto Rico.
A major factor in the size and expansion of the recalls has been admitted bad record keeping by Takata, which has made it difficult to identify the vehicles that might have the suspect inflators.