General Motors announced today it will conduct six new safety recalls in involving about 7.6 million vehicles in the U.S. from the 1997 to 2014 model years, the vast majority drawing more vehicles into the ignition switch issue.
The latest recall in an almost daily drumbeat of GM announcements was so breathtaking in its scope that it briefly halted trading of the automaker's shares. GM announced it will take a $1.2 billion charge in the second quarter to pay for the cost of the recalls. It's a huge boost from the $700 million charge that had been previously announced.
The latest recalls bring GM's total so far this year to 25.68 million in the U.S., That's a record for the nation's largest automaker. Still a month from the year's halfway mark, it's yet to be seen whether GM and all other makers can rival the 58.4 million recall record set in 1999.
In the most recent 10-year period -- 2003 - 2012 -- all-automaker recalls average about 21 million a year.
The cavalcade of GM recalls is because the automaker is trying to clean house on safety issues and is recalling many vehicles that once would have been held in limbo while being discussed and studied. GM's under "unprecedented scrutiny" by federal safety officials because of its foot-dragging on an ignition-switch recall.
And yes, there are many, many GM vehicles made over the years that have somehow dodged all the recalls.
The vast majority of the vehicles being recalled in the latest announcement, some 6.8 million in the U.S., involve a single new recall that extends the ignition switch issue to larger GM cars, not just the smaller ones that have been at the center of it so far.
Like the small cars, the new recall involves sedans under various GM brands mostly from the last decade. Among these larger cars, GM says it has identified seven crashes involving eight injuries and three fatalities that it believes could be tied to the ignition switch issue, although it adds there is "no conclusive evidence" of a link. They are in addition to 13 deaths that the automaker says occurred in smaller cars possibly because of the switches.
Models included in Monday's recall Included the 1997 to 2005 Chevrolet Malibu, 1998 to 2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue, 1999 to 2004 Oldsmobile Alero; 1999 to 2005 Pontiac Grand Am; 2000 to 2005 Pontiac Grand Am; 2000 to 2005 Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo and 2004 to 2008 Pontiac Grand Prix.
Under a separate recall of 554,328 vehicle in the U.S. are the 2003 to 2014 Cadillac CTS and 2004 to 2006 Cadillac SRX.
"We have worked aggressively to identify and address the major outstanding issues that could impact the safety of our customers," says GM CEO Mary Barra in a statement that accompanied the announcement. "If any other issues come to our attention, we will act appropriately and without hesitation."
Trading in GM stock was halted at 2:30 p.m. and resumed by 3 p.m., once the GM recall news and new charge were announced. The stock closed at $36.30, down 32 cents, or 0.87%, on the day.
Investors also realized that GM might be on the hook for far more, as details of its victims compensation fund were disclosed Monday morning.
Fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg said a number of times that GM has agreed to pay, without limit, anyone he believes is entitled to compensation for death or injury in crashes involving the 2.6 million GM small cars recalled earlier this year.
Feinberg noted that claims can be filed not only by people riding in any seat in the GM cars with the bad switches, but by pedestrians and people in other cars involved in wrecks with those GM cars.
That dramatically expands the universe of people who could get money from the GM-fed fund that Feinberg has sole discretion to run as he sees fit.