General Motors Recalls Keep Getting Worse, but Its Sales Keep Getting Better

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
July 16 2014 4:52 PM

General Motors Recalls Keep Getting Worse, but Its Sales Keep Getting Better

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Recalls? What recalls?

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Things are looking bright at General Motors. The automaker announced this afternoon that it sold 2.5 million vehicles worldwide in the second quarter of 2014, its best second quarter since 2005. Sales rose 7 percent in the U.S. and 8 percent in China. Total sales hit 4.9 million for the first half of the year. "GM did well in the world's two largest and most profitable vehicle markets and that helped us grow despite very challenging market conditions in parts of South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe," chief executive Mary Barra said in a statement.

With numbers like that, you could almost forget that the company is embroiled in one of the worst safety crises in recent memory. At last count, GM has recalled approximately 30 million cars and paid out a $35 million fine to the government as it grapples with an ignition switch defect that has been linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes. Additional payouts to the victims of crashes caused by defective vehicles are expected to end up costing the company several billion dollars.

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In the latest update in the saga, the New York Times reported on Tuesday that GM was at first less than honest in explaining crashes to regulators. When the government began probing specific accidents—including ones that GM had already internally linked to ignition switch defects—the automaker found ways not to respond to questions, and there wasn't "sufficient reliable information" to assess the cause of at least one incident. Not the best track record. But the way monthly sales are looking, you'd never know.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

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