General Motors executives, rocked by revelations about GM’s failure to fix known defects in its 2005 -2007 Chevy Cobalts and other cars the manufacturer produced in 2005 – 2007, seek to portray the company in a more favorable light, claiming that the mistakes of the past belong to the “Old GM” and the “New GM” has changed its stripes and is now more responsible and caring.
But — is it? You be the judge. Here’s what’s happening: At the same time GM struggles to be perceived as a kindler, gentler company that actually cares about its customers’ safety, it is actively blocking legislation in the US Senate to stop rental car companies from renting unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers. In other words, if an unrepaired, recalled Cobalt happens to show up in a rental car fleet, they are perfectly willing to keep playing “recalled car roulette” with your life.
GM’s position, argued in revealing testimony by Mitch Bainwol, Executive Director of the Auto Alliance, which includes GM, is that they don’t want to have to compensate rental car companies for the down time, when the manufacturers’ unsafe, defective products languish on rental car company lots while the manufacturers and their suppliers crank out the parts necessary to fix the safety defects. The fact the manufacturers are obviously responsible for making the defective products in the first place somehow doesn’t seem to register in their consciousness. To them, it’s all about avoiding any added costs, even if that means putting their customers’ safety at risk.
Adding fuel to suspicions about GM’s supposed change of heart: GM’s now offering concerned owners of the recalled cars a loaner, to be supplied by a GM dealer. However, they have not revealed what standards, if any, the loaner cars must meet. Is GM allowing its dealers to loan out vehicles that are under a safety recall?
If you think this scenario sounds far-fetched, think again. GM dealers are opposing the same federal legislation (S 921), named for Raechel and Jacqueline Houck — two sisters, ages 20 and 24, who were killed by a recalled rental car. GM dealers are also fighting against a popular bill currently pending in California (SB 686) that would stop them from selling, renting, leasing, or loaning unsafe, recalled used cars to consumers.
Fe Lastrella, who lost her son, daughter, granddaughter (age 13) and son-in-law in a horrific crash near San Diego, after a Toyota dealer loaned her family a runaway Lexus while their new Lexus was in the dealership for routine maintenance, gave heartbreaking testimony in favor of the California loaner car safety measure.
Dealer lobbyists dismissed her testimony as irrelevant, because the crash involved a Lexus that had not yet been recalled — although her family’s tragedy raised public awareness and sparked a massive Toyota recall. Instead, they argued that anytime there is a delay in getting repair parts, they should not be expected to stop loaning unsafe, recalled vehicles to consumers.
According to statewide polling, 88% of likely California voters disagree, and favor banning dealers from foisting unsafe, recalled vehicles into their customers. Of those, 78% “strongly” favor the restrictions.
Apparently GM and its dealers think the media can only focus on one auto safety disaster story at a time, and won’t connect the dots.
Other vehicles besides the Chevy Cobalt included in the safety recall (so far): 2007 Pontiac G5s, 2003-7 Saturn Ions, 2006-7 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-7 Pontiac Solstices, and 2007 Saturn Skys,