General Motors hints its avalanche of older-car recalls is over.
The automaker, still under a microscope on safety issues, will announce more recalls, but expects them from now on to be less numerous and more typical of the overall industry -- smaller numbers of, mainly, newer vehicles recalled as problems are found.
GM is under intense scrutiny from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over its recall process and decision-making, and meets monthly with the safety agency. That's part of the fallout from GM's delayed worldwide recall in February and March of 2.6 million 2003 to 2011 small cars for defective ignition switches that can disable airbags. GM links the faulty switches to 12 deaths in the U.S. and one in Canada.
After that recall, the company began an intensive campaign to identify and expedite any pending safety issues.
While declining to say directly that the cavalcade is over -- for fear of raising false hopes that all recalls are ended -- GM said it wouldn't quibble with comments by JP Morgan auto industry analyst Ryan Brinkman.
He told his clients in a note earlier this week "GM concluded its enhanced product-safety review that has led to a significantly elevated pace of vehicle recalls."
A statement from CEO Mary Barra accompanying the latest recalls -- 7.55 million U.S. vehicles announced Monday, for a variety of defects -- intentionally used the past tense: "We undertook what I believe is the most comprehensive safety review in the history of our company."
That brought GM's recall tally this year to 54 recalls -- an average of nine a month -- involving 25.69 million vehicles, though some vehicles are involved in more than one recall.
The entire auto industry has averaged about 21 million vehicles recalled per year in the U.S. for the past decade, says USA Today research.
GM global development chief Mark Reuss previously told Brinkman the extraordinary pace of recalls could wind down this summer. GM's safety chief, Jeff Boyer, said in an interview earlier this year it would be a sign of business as usual when GM recalls begin to be for fewer, newer models.
Boyer, a senior GM engineer, was appointed to the post in March by Barra and made responsible for cleaning up all potential recalls. The more and faster the recalls, the better he's been doing his job.
Among those Monday recalls was a huge one -- 6.81 million -- for an ignition-switch problem in 1997 to 2008 U.S. mid-size and large cars. GM links three deaths to that defect.
-- USA Today