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Originally published Monday, April 21, 2014 at 6:52 PM

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GM recalls no big deal to many at NYC auto show

“Stuff happens,” said one visitor, among those who said their confidence in General Motors cars had not been shaken by the company’s long-delayed recall of millions of cars for an ignition-switch defect that GM has linked to 13 deaths.


The New York Times

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NEW YORK — Louis Monetti pulled a tape measure from his back pocket and stretched it across the Chevrolet Cruze’s trunk to make sure his bicycle would fit.

Then he crouched for a good look at the car’s rear suspension. It all seemed fine, he said this past weekend at the New York International Auto Show, adding that he probably would buy the Cruze over the Ford Fusion.

Monetti was one of many at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan whose confidence in General Motors cars had not been shaken by the company’s long-delayed recall of millions of small cars for an ignition-switch defect that GM has linked to 13 deaths and 31 accidents.

Despite federal investigations, contentious hearings in Congress and mounting criticism from lawmakers and consumer advocates, potential buyers at GM exhibits, and at those of other automakers, expressed little concern.

“The cars here are different than the ones that were recalled; the ignition switch is an old issue,” said Monetti, of New York City.

“Sure, the whole situation blemishes GM, but every car company has issues. How many have covered something up?”

The Cruze succeeded the Cobalt, the compact Chevrolet car at the heart of GM’s ignition-switch crisis and one no longer in production.

The Cruze, too, has been included in this year’s wave of recalls — but not for an ignition issue. The Cruze has a right-front axle shaft that can fracture and separate without warning.

“Financially, it’s a really good deal,” auto-show visitor Natalie Saldana said of the Cruze, which starts at $18,345.

Nearby, huddled over the Chevrolet Impala, Jan Miller and Lynn Chippeaux of New Jersey did not pay attention to the federal investigation and recall, either.

“Thirteen people died over how many years?” Miller asked. “I feel really bad for the families, but how many millions of cars was that out of?

“It’s like the odds of being hit by lightning. Stuff happens,” Miller said.

Most of the other models that GM showed off at the auto show — the new Chevrolet Trax, a small SUV, and the Corvette Z06 convertible — bore little similarity to the compact, economy-class cars that have been the focus of the continuing defect investigations.

Product specialists at the show said that questions about the recall were rare.

One reason for the lack of concern, analysts said, is that all of the 2.6 million cars recalled because of the ignition switch are out of production.

“The Cobalt, Ion, HHR, you’re not seeing those at the auto show. All the vehicles that have been recalled are part of a defunct brand,” said Jeremy Acevedo, an analyst for Edmunds.com, referring to Saturn and Pontiac. “Or they’re vehicles GM is no longer producing.”

GM’s sales did not suffer in March, the first full month since the recall.

The company posted a 4 percent increase in sales over the previous March, with Chevrolet models making up 70 percent of all vehicles sold.

General consumer interest in GM cars has not waned, according to Edmunds.com.

Since January, Web browsing of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler and GMC models on the site has held steady or increased.

Jesse Toprak, chief analyst for Cars.com, suggested that the market might need more time to process news of the defects and GM’s admitted mishandling of them.

“Chances are there will be more of a negative impact on GM’s sales in April,” Toprak said, “when consumers will have more awareness of the expanded recalls.”



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