How GM Quietly Hid Recalled Part Fix From Itself In 2006

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1st Gear: It's Not The Crime, It's The Coverup


Nick Bunkley and Mike Colias don't ever come right out and say that GM fixed the ignition for Cobalts and Ions in 2006 and then covered up that fix by doing it discreetly and keeping the same part number. They never say it, but they heavily imply it.

This report, which is another excellent example of reportage to come out of this mess, walks you through more of the steps to compliment the Bloomberg article from last week.

Essentially, a deposition (and other reporting) shows that the ignition was redesigned by GM in the early 2000s and eventually replaced in 2006 without the normal protocol. Specifically, they kept the same part number from the old (now recalled) switch and the new switch.

It's early in the investigation and the questions, which mostly remain unanswered, are nearly as important as the answers in this stage. Here they are:

Why did GM authorize a redesign of the part in 2006, eight years before the recall? And why was the change made so discreetly — without a new part number — that employees investigating complaints of Ions and Cobalts stalling didn't know about it until late last year?


In GM's defense, if this wasn't as nefarious as it sounds, proving there is no conspiracy is extremely hard because you have to prove the absence of secret collusion.

2nd Gear: Congrats To Mark Rechtin


Speaking of Automotive News reporters, congrats to Mark Rechtin for his Neal award for business journalism.

Specifically, it's an award for "Best Range of Work as a Single Author." That's kind of harsh as, really, his relationship status should have nothing to do with his work.


You'll find love someday, Mark, we just know it.

3rd Gear: Aluminum Repair Is The Future


One of the most effective ways to increase fuel economy is to drop weight, but that brings with it its own share of complications. Specifically, fixing aluminum. With vehicles as wide0-ranging as the 2015 Ford F-150 and Tesla Model S using aluminum, it's becoming an issue.

Karl Henkel breaks it down pointing out that shops are going to be spending serious coin to get ready for this new world of aluminum repair, which requires special equipment and training.


Most importantly? They're going to be passing that cost on to you.

Don't crash your McLaren, bro.

4th Gear: Driverless Cars Suck… Data


When we talk about carmakers wanting to reserve part of the radio spectrum for data, this nice review from the WSJ is a good read as to why.

...[T]o drive themselves safely and reliably, cars will need numerous sensors to gather as much information as possible about their constantly changing surroundings, and powerful onboard processors to analyze that information. Some data may flow to remote computers for crunching, too. Cars will need to talk to each other, as well, for a better sense of how traffic patterns in the immediate area are developing. And all of this will have to happen lightning fast.


5th Gear: Hyundai's Performance Tied To Sonata


The Hyundai Sonata was part or a one-two punch with the Hyundai Elantra aimed at knocking the established players off their feet. It worked. But then everyone else caught up and a rising Korean won made it harder to sell cars at a super cheap discount and still make big profits.

Thus, everyone will be watching how many of the redesigned Sonata they move.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg show an average of 245,000 of the new mid-sizers sold this year. The company says 228,000.


Reverse: I actually don't remember this

On this day in 2007, an around-the-world relay celebrating Italian sports car maker Ferrari's 60th anniversary passes through Los Angeles, California. The relay began earlier that year, on January 28, in Abu Dhabi and continued on through 50 countries including Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Australia, Mexico, America, Canada and Russia, before ending on June 23, 2007 at Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy. Thousands of Ferrari owners and their cars participated at various points of the relay, serving as symbolic bearers of a relay baton featuring 60 badges representing key innovations in the luxury automaker's history.



Neutral: Was It A Coverup?

Was GM sloppy or cunning? Anyone with experience engineering cars think GM pulled a fast one?


Photo Credit: Getty Images

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