GM says Delphi working 'around the clock,' ignition repairs can be done by October

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DETROIT -- General Motors today said it expects to get about 1 million ignition repair kits to dealerships by the end of July and enough to fix all of the cars included in its ignition switch recall by October.

Jeff Boyer, the engineer GM appointed in March as its vice president of global safety, today said in a statement that a Delphi Automotive plant is making replacement ignition switches “around the clock” seven days a week. GM is “buying new machinery and equipment to make parts quickly” and helping Delphi get two additional production lines running by the summer, Boyer wrote on a GM Web site.

“Given that the ignition switch was in very limited production for several years, GM’s supplier, Delphi, increased production, pulled machinery out of storage, and found new suppliers for some of the part components,” Boyer wrote.

A timetable included with Boyer’s post shows that production is expected to rise from a total of roughly 250,000 switches made in April and May to more than 600,000 in September alone. By Oct. 4, 2.26 million repair kits should be available, the chart shows.

The update on the parts production preceded GM's announcement today that it had agreed to pay the government’s maximum fine of $35 million for waiting too long to recall cars with faulty ignition switches.  The U.S. Department of Transportation said GM had also agreed to make “significant and wide-ranging internal changes” in its handling of future safety defects.

The recall covers about 2.59 million cars globally, including 2.19 million in the United States. But GM documents suggest that only about 90 percent of those vehicles remain in owners’ hands today, and in general, fewer than 80 percent of owners who receive a recall notice take their vehicle in for the repair.

GM now has a form on the Web site GMIgnitionUpdate.com, where owners of the recalled cars can order a repair kit to be sent to their dealership. GM has told dealers that each repair kit must be ordered individually for a specific vehicle identification number.

The recall includes the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Saturn Ion and Sky, and Pontiac G5 and Solstice from the 2003 through 2011 model years. For most of the cars, the repair process involves replacing the ignition switch and key cylinder as well as cutting new keys.

The switch is being replaced because it may not meet GM’s torque specifications, which means it can inadvertently slip out of the “run” position, disabling airbags, power steering and antilock brakes. GM also decided to install new cylinders to address complaints about keys coming out of the ignition when the car is running. In addition, the new keys are designed to reduce the chances that a heavy key ring could pull down on the side of the key and rotate the ignition into “accessory” mode.

You can reach Nick Bunkley at nbunkley@crain.com. -- Follow Nick on Twitter

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