The Saturn Vue is joining the list of GM recalls. Already GM has faced a recall over six models including the Saturn Ion and the Saturn Sky. GM, which discontinued its line of Saturns about five years ago, continues to be plagued by issues regarding ignition key problems. This has been linked to crashes, injuries and even deaths. GM agreed to the recall after repeated negotiations with the NHTSA this summer.
GM has admitted that the VUE switch problem has been linked to two crashes and one death. In other models, the problem has been linked to 54 crashes and 13 deaths. In affected cars, the ignition switch can move itself out of the “run” position, while it is in motion. Safety experts say that when this happens, the car doesn’t recognize that it is in use and, therefore, will not deploy an airbag in a crash.
The latest recall is expected to affect 215,000 Vues, including 205,000 in the United States. The Vue, a small crossover, was one of Saturn’s most popular models. It was manufacturered until 2007, but the Saturn Vue recall only affects model years 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2008, GM attempted to sell Saturn. When that failed, the entire brand was discontinued in 2009. According to the NHTSA, this has not negated GM’s legal responsibility to Saturn owners.
In May, GM accepted a deal with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to pay a record fine for its delay in admitting and administering recalls based on the ignition key issue. The fine of $35 million is the highest ever levied on an automobile manufacturer. In the agreement, GM admits that it did not inform the NHTSA about these safety problems as required by law. A car manufacturer has five days after recognizing a major safety issue to notify federal authorities.
GM has already been forced to recall 2.6 million cars over the ignition key issue. The largest number are Chevrolet Cobalts, model years 2005-2010. The Chevrolet HHR wagon and the Pontiac Solstice sports car are under recall for model years 2006-2010. The Saturn Sky, a sporty roadster, is under recall for model years 2007 to 2010. The Saturn Ion, a compact car, is under recall for model years 2003-2007. The Pontiac G5, which was primarily sold in Canada, is under recall for years 2007-2010. None of these cars are featured in the current line-up of GM cars.
GM went through a bail-out in 2009 and re-emerged as a real competitor again in the automotive world. During its shedding of dead weight, it discontinued the Pontiac brand as well as Saturn. GM currently owns GMC, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac. It also owns major shares in subsidiaries Opel and Vauxhall in Europe. GM leadership has been quick to point out that it is not the same company as it was before, but the NHTSA has held its ground, insisting that GM honor its prior commitments to those who own one of these Saturn Vue crossovers.