Spokesman Alan Adler confirmed that the automaker has ordered a halt to sales of models with the 1.4-liter turbo engine, the most popular version of the compact car. Adler did not know the reason for the halt, and said there has not been a recall issued on cars already sold.
The news comes as GM contends with a damaging recall of 1.6 million small cars worldwide due to an ignition switch flaw that has been linked to at least 12 deaths. This stop order is minor in comparison to that recall, but comes at a bad time, as Congress and federal prosecutors probe why GM did not recall the cars for a decade after it discovered the problem. GM CEO Mary Barra, who has apologized repeatedly for the delays in the recall, is due to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
But this move could turn out to be a positive for GM if it shows that the company is responding more quickly to safety issues than it did in the past.
“GM has to do more than appear to be making changes. They have to have verifiable shifts in how they handle safety issues,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for sales tracker Kelley Blue Book. “What’s the big problem with the ignition switch — that they didn’t act quickly enough. Now they’re responding at the first signs of any problem.”