GM CEO Testifies Before Congressional Panel on Ignition Switch Recalls


GM CEO Mary Barra testified this afternoon before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee investigating the automaker's recall of more than 2.5 million vehicles worldwide for faulty ignition switches that have been blamed in at least 31 crashes and 13 deaths. House committee members took turns grilling Barra with questions focusing heavily on when it came to the automaker's attention that faulty switches had been used in the 2003-10 Saturn Ion and 2007-10 Sky, the 2006-10 Pontiac Solstice and 2005-10 G5, and the 2006-11 Chevrolet HHR and 2005-07 Cobalt, and why after repeated complaints and defect discoveries in subsequent years the faulty ignition switches continued to be used. Panel members also attempted to get to the bottom of how numerous communication breakdowns between GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had occurred.

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After reiterating in her opening statement her earlier apology to the victims of the ignition switch problem and their families, Barra repeatedly responded to subcommittee members' questions by saying she would have answers only after GM completed its ongoing internal investigation. One new piece of information Barra did report to House members was that GM has hired lawyer Kenneth Feinberg, who has overseen the victim-compensation process after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the BP oil spill and the Boston Marathon bombing.

By Matt Schmitz | April 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 824,000 GM Vehicles


Affected Vehicles: About 824,000 model-year 2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt subcompact cars and 2008-2011 HHR wagons; 2008-2010 Pontiac Solstice sports cars and G5 subcompacts; and 2008-2010 Saturn Sky sports cars.

The Problem: In this voluntary expansion of the ignition-switch recall already involving 1.6 million vehicles, faulty switches may have been used to repair the latest crop of affected vehicles. According to the automaker, if torque performance is not to GM specification, the ignition switch may unintentionally move from the Run position to the Accessory or Off positions, leading to a loss of power and, as a result, systems such as power steering, antilock brakes and airbags. The risk may be increased if the driver's key ring is carrying added weight, or if the vehicle goes off-road or experiences some jarring event. About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers in the aftermarket and about 90,000 were used in repairs, GM stated, noting that no deaths or injuries have been associated with this new group of recalled vehicles.

"Although the cars were all built with an ignition switch that has had no problems, they might have been repaired with faulty switches left in the parts bins at dealerships and auto shops," GM spokesman Jim Cain told the Los Angeles Times.

The Fix: Owners who may have had a suspect part installed will be notified by GM the week of April 21 via a letter, and dealers will replace the ignition switch for free as parts become available; dealers, distributors and other parts customers will be notified March 31. Customers who paid to have their ignition switches replaced will be eligible for reimbursement. To help prevent an inadvertent shift in the switch, GM has asked owners to use only a key without a keychain while driving the vehicles.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call Chevrolet at 800-222-1020, Pontiac at 800-762-2737 and Saturn at 800-553-6000, or go to, for more info.

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By Matt Schmitz | March 28, 2014 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2003-2007 Saturn Ion; 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky


Vehicles Affected: About 588,000 2003-07 Saturn Ion compact cars, 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR SUVs, and 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars.

The Problem: An issue with the ignition switch could allow the key to unintentionally move or switch to the Accessory or Off position, shutting down the engine and most of the vehicle's electrical components, increasing the risk of a crash. Five crashes, resulting in six deaths, already had been attributed to the problem, for which GM earlier this month recalled 619,122 model-year 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars. This expansion, GM says, raises the number of reported incidents involving frontal crashes in which the recall condition may have caused or contributed to the non-deployment of frontal airbags to 31, with 12 front-seat fatalities. The automaker says the total affected number of U.S. vehicles is now 1,367,146.

By Matt Schmitz | February 25, 2014 | Comments (78)

Through Ian's Lens: 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe GXP

In the wake of General Motors filing for bankruptcy, I would like to take a moment of silence to honor the short life of the 2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP coupe (pause). Now that the moment has passed, I would like to remember the Solstice coupe as one of the prettiest cars I’ve seen come off a General Motors assembly line in the past five years. This little two-door will only be produced in a small run this year, then will disappear forever as Pontiac closes its doors.

As for the design of this coupe, the swooping hatch reminds me of a crossbreed between Corvettes and Porsches of yore, while even the nose harks back a bit to the British two-seaters of yesteryear. If that’s not enough for you to take a second look, the only production model we could find in the flesh to shoot was painted in a racing yellow, which, well, left a lot to be desired. Why can’t more fleet cars be black? I’d even take gunmetal gray ...

I honestly wish I’d had a chance to drive it. But, alas, we will never see the likes of it again. Adieu, little buddy, adieu.

By Ian Merritt | June 4, 2009 | Comments (5)

GM Plant Closures Signal Product Shift


Now that it’s operating under bankruptcy protection, GM has ramped up the scheduled plant closures it had previously announced. Four assembly plants will be closed this year, impacting current products.

The least surprising closure is the Wilmington, Del., plant that produces the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice roadsters and coupes. It's also the most immediate, shutting down in July of this year. The 2010 Pontiac Solstice coupe just went into production at the plant, and company officials have said only 1,000 will be produced. One is already sold to GM executive Bob Lutz, meaning there are only 999 available.

The other three assembly plants and what they build are listed below.

By David Thomas | June 1, 2009 | Comments (2)

What the End of Pontiac Means To You

Pontiacemblem Today GM announced it would stop producing new Pontiac models by the end of 2010. This is the end of an era for the once-proud performance brand, but it also leaves a lot of questions for car shoppers and Pontiac owners.

We talked to Jim Hopson, Pontiac’s manager of communications, this morning to clarify GM’s statement. He said that Pontiac will continue to operate normally even with today’s announcement. All warranty work will be completed as usual; any new Pontiacs sold will have the same full warranty they did last week, one which has the backing of the U.S. government. The government's backing is to help ensure consumers that its safe to still purchase new GM cars while the company seeks to restructure. Only cars purchased through May get the government-backed warranty.

GM will continue to make parts for Pontiac models indefinitely and most Pontiac dealers also sell the Buick and GMC brands and will continue to operate. The automaker still produces replacement parts for the defunct Oldsmobile, which GM shuttered in 2004.

What Hopson couldn’t say was when certain models would be phased out.

The current Pontiac lineup reads as follows, including how many days of inventory was sitting on lots as of April 1.

  • Pontiac G3: 617 days of inventory
  • Pontiac G5: 443 days of inventory
  • Pontiac G6: 83 days of inventory
  • Pontiac G8: 92 days of inventory
  • Pontiac Solstice: 276 days of inventory
  • Pontiac Vibe: 149 days of inventory
  • Pontiac Torrent: 99 days of inventory

The national average for all brands is 83 days of inventory.

We detail specific information on Pontiac models below.

By David Thomas | April 27, 2009 | Comments (43)

Video: 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe

2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe Video

Folks going to the New York auto show this week will get to check out the all-new Pontiac Solstice coupe. Those not so lucky can sit in the comfort of their desk chair and check out Joe Wiesenfelder’s video highlighting the good — hey, more headroom — and the bad — wicked blind spot — of the new two-seat sportster.

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More on the Pontiac Solstice

By David Thomas | March 25, 2008 | Comments (2)

Up Close: 2009 Solstice GXP Coupe


More than six years after its concept debut alongside the Solstice roadster, the Solstice coupe is a real product. It looks pretty good in person. Even though the rear quarterpanels are the same as those on the roadster, the fastback roofline looks organic and well-integrated.

I removed the targa top, which attaches via two levers in front and one in the back. Though it's 31 pounds, it's a bit wide. I was able to handle it by myself, but some people will require a helper on the other side. They'll also require a garage to leave it in. Unfortunately, the roof panel doesn't fit into the cargo area as the Chevy Corvette's does, so you pretty much have to leave it at home and hope it doesn't rain. Pontiac's solution is an optional fabric roof panel that can be carried in the back, just in case. There wasn't one to play with, but the accessory should be available when the car goes on sale in January or February of 2009.

The roof panel isn't the only thing that won't fit in the cargo hatch; where the convertible has a famously cramped horseshoe-shaped depression under its trunklid (and that's only when the soft top is up), the coupe improves things only a little bit. Being a hatchback helps, but with the exception of some modest bins in the cargo floor, all the space is above the occupants' shoulder level. Technically, this isn't a safe way to carry cargo in case of a collision.

The coupe is slightly more aerodynamic than the roadster, but that's unlikely to improve gas mileage much. The car is only about 20 pounds heavier than the roadster, so Pontiac says to expect similar EPA figures. The base roadster gets 19 mpg in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway. (Remarkably, the turbocharged GXP gets better mileage — 28 mpg on the highway.) Though the auto show coupe is a GXP, a base model will also be available. More photos below which we'll continue to update.

2008 New York Auto Show: 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe

By Joe Wiesenfelder | March 19, 2008 | Comments (3)

2008 New York Auto Show: 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe


  • Competes with: Mini Cooper, Volvo C30, VW GTI
  • Looks like: Pontiac has a true inheritor for the Fiero
  • Drivetrain: 173-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder or 260-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with five-speed manual or five-speed automatic
  • Hits dealerships: Early 2009

There aren’t many inexpensive sports coupes on the market, and Pontiac is hoping the 2009 Solstice coupe will catch fire and generate a buzz like the convertible did a few years ago.

The coupe is almost identical to the convertible in terms of the engines and transmissions offered, as well as the interior layout and materials. What’s obviously different is the fastback body style, which really sets it apart from its sibling.

Without the clunky fold-down ragtop and its assorted mechanisms, there’s a flat floor behind the front seats for storage; cargo room is virtually nonexistent in the convertible and doesn't look much improved here. The coupe isn’t actually a fixed roof — the roof panel can be removed, just like on the Corvette, and is made of magnesium.

We wonder what the demand for the Solstice coupe will be, but much of it may depend on the price. Common practice usually prices coupes less than convertibles, and the 2008 vert’s prices of $22,165 and $27,845 for the base and GXP versions are already pretty affordable. We’d still love to see a sub-$20,000 base price. Check out more photos below.

By David Thomas | March 18, 2008 | Comments (10)

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