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General Motors announced Thursday it will take a $1.3 billion charge to cover the cost of repairs related to faulty ignition switch recalls and placed two engineers on paid leave.
The automaker also said it will replace a second part in the affected cars.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra confirmed Thursday that two engineers were put on leave following a briefing from Anton Valukas, the former U.S. attorney overseeing an independent investigation into circumstances leading to a safety recall of 2.6 million GM cars because of a faulty ignition switch.
'This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened,” Barra said Thursday. 'It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM.”
The defect causes vehicles to shut off, disabling the air bags and other key functions, and has been linked to 13 deaths. GM has known about the problem for more than a decade but did not recall the cars until earlier this year.
The auto company already had set aside $750 million to fix the cars with the bad switch, to provide owners loaner vehicles when requested, and to repair about 3.5 million other vehicles recalled for other problems.
GM also has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it will replace the ignition lock cylinders in the 2.2 million cars recalled for the ignition switch issue in the United States. It also will recall the other 400,000 cars sold in foreign markets.
The cylinders can allow removal of the ignition key while the engine is running, leading to a possible rollaway, crash and injuries to people inside the vehicle and pedestrians.
GM said it knows of 'several hundred complaints of keys coming out of ignitions. Searches of GM and government databases found one rollaway in a parking lot that resulted in a crash and one injury claim.”
The expanded recall covers the 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2007-2010 Saturn Sky and 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR.