It's been a busy year so far for General Motors as the American automaker has been dealing with a host of issues pertaining to numerous recalls that as of early July number about 20 million vehicles. Newsday takes a look at some of the more notable events related to GM recalls since the start of 2014.
February 10: Recalls begin
General Motors announced the recall of certain model year 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, above, and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles. Two weeks later, GM increased the recall to include an additional 748,024 model year 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice vehicles and 2003-2007 Saturn Ion vehicles and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles. In these models, the weight on the key ring and/or road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position, turning off the engine. If the key is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury.
February 27: U.S. regulators launch investigation
U.S. regulators are investigating why General Motors took years to recall 1.6 million cars over an ignition-switch defect linked to 13 deaths in crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the probe in an emailed statement. The agency could fine GM as much as $35 million, which would be the most ever by the agency, if it finds the largest U.S. automaker failed to pursue a recall when it knew the cars were defective.
March 18: Barra apologizes
General Motors CEO Mary Barra apologized for the deaths related to the company's delayed recall of 1.6 million small cars, and named a new global safety director to help prevent such issues in the future. In her first meeting with reporters since February's recall, Barra stopped short of saying the company would compensate families of those killed in crashes. "I am very sorry for the loss of life that occurred, and we will take every step to make sure this never happens again," she said.
March 31: More recalls
GM recalled another 1.5 million vehicles worldwide because the electronic power-steering assist can suddenly stop working, making them harder to steer. The new recall, which included popular models such as the Malibu, brings to 6.3 million the number of vehicles GM has recalled since February. The initial recall -- now at 2.6 million small cars for an ignition switch defect -- prompted the automaker to name a new safety chief and speed up the review of cases that might lead to recalls.
April 2: Congressional testimony
General Motors chief executive Mary Barra told Congress that she still doesn't know why it took so long for the automaker to recall 2.6 million vehicles linked to the deaths of 13 people, while promising eventual answers. "Sitting here today, I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will find out," Barra said before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators, and with our customers."
April 24: Negative financial impact
General Motors reported its worst financial results in more than four years as the costs of a series of recalls dragged down earnings. First-quarter profit fell 86 percent to $125 million as the Detroit automaker took a $1.3 billion charge for recalling about 7 million vehicles worldwide.
May 8: Millions of parts needed
Nine million parts. That's what General Motors said it needs to repair millions of cars it has recalled since Feb. 7. With ignition switches, power steering motors and other parts slowly arriving at dealers, frustrated drivers face waits of weeks or months, some while driving cars they fear are unsafe. Any recall can present challenges for automakers and customers.
May 13: Related air bag problems
General Motors' recall of 2.6 million small cars has shed light on an unsettling fact: Air bags might not always deploy when drivers -- and federal regulators -- expect them to. Thirteen people have died in crashes involving older GM cars with defective ignition switches. In each of those crashes, and in others in which occupants were injured, the air bags failed to deploy even after striking trees, guardrails or other objects.
May 16: GM fined $35 million
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, May 12, 2014. Four days later, U.S. safety regulators announced they have fined General Motors $35 million for delays in recalling small cars with faulty ignition switches that are linked to at least 13 deaths. It's the maximum penalty that the government can impose and the first time an automaker has been fined that much.
June 5: GM issues recall report
General Motors president Dan Ammann and CEO Mary Barra at a news conference at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Mich. The company said it has forced out 15 employees for their role in the deadly ignition-switch scandal and will set up a compensation fund for crash victims, as an internal investigation blamed the debacle on engineering ignorance and bureaucratic dithering, not a deliberate cover-up.
June 18: Barra faces more questions from Congress
General Motors CEO Mary Barra walks past former US Attorney Anton Valukas, investigator (left) and television cameras as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Barra testified before the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing examining the facts and circumstances that contributed to General Motors’ failure to identify a safety defect in certain ignition switches and initiate a recall in a timely manner.
June 30: GM recalls another 8.4 million vehicles
General Motors recalled 8.45 million more vehicles for defects including ignitions and electrical malfunctions. Included in the recall were Chevrolet Malibus from 1997 to 2005 and Cadillac CTS cars from the 2003 to 2014 model years. Among the vehicles recalled, GM said it’s aware of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities. The fatal crashes occurred in older full-size sedans being recalled for ignition. GM said it isn’t clear whether the faulty ignition caused those crashes.