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Older model Saturns, Cadillacs among latest GM recalls

A 2002-2005 Saturn VUE.

A 2002-2005 Saturn VUE. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / IFCAR

General Motors Co., which before Friday had recalled almost 29 million cars and trucks in North America this year, flagged 312,280 more for issues, including the Saturn VUE sport utility vehicle and Cadillac ATS.

The largest of the actions announced Friday involves about 215,000 of the Saturn SUVs for model years 2002-2004, which are being recalled because the ignition key can be removed when the vehicle isn’t in the park position, Detroit-based GM said in an emailed statement.

The company said it is aware of two crashes and one injury potentially related to the issue.

The biggest U.S. automaker is stepping up the pace of recalls as it faces multiple investigations for its slowness in calling back 2.59 million small cars with ignition flaws linked to at least 13 deaths. Congress and the U.S. Justice Department are both investigating why it took GM more than a decade to recall the vehicles. Since that action began in February, the company has recalled other cars for similar issues and to address a wide range of problems.

Before Friday, General Motors had surpassed the record for U.S. safety fixes by an automaker in a calendar year. GM’s recall tally was 25.5 million for the United States and 28.8 million for North America. That eclipses Ford Motor Co.’s single-year record of 23.3 million in 2001.

On July 24, GM said it would set aside at least $400 million to pay victims of the 2.59 million small-car recall. While the amount may rise to $600 million, Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer managing the program, will ultimately decide the cost, said Chuck Stevens, GM’s chief financial officer. Feinberg managed similar funds for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the BP Plc oil spill.

“There is no cap on the program,” Stevens told reporters at the company’s Detroit headquarters.

GM’s profit for the first six months tumbled 81 percent to $491 million from a year earlier as the company addresses the issue. In the second quarter, it spent $1.2 billion on recall related costs and took $1.3 billion of one-time charges. Those costs were in addition to the $1.3 billion GM spent in the first quarter to address the problems.

General Motors' CEO Mary Barra told analysts on July 24 that she believes the company’s heightened effort to review past safety issues, including looking at vehicles going back to the 1990s, was “substantially complete.” Still, the company will act if it finds other problems, she said.

“We have now addressed some major outstanding issues,” Barra said on a conference call. “But if we see new data, we will address it.”

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