With more than a million defective small cars still on the road, General Motors said on Tuesday that it was adding an incentive for owners to have them fixed: $25 gift cards to one of seven retailers, like Applebee’s and Bass Pro Shops.
As of last week, 1.26 million, or 53 percent, of the cars had been repaired, leaving many drivers potentially at risk. The cars have a faulty ignition switch that can suddenly turn off, disabling air bags and power systems like steering and brakes.
The automaker has in part attributed the high number of unrepaired cars to inaction by owners, but dealerships have only recently had enough replacement parts in stock. GM’s supplier had to revive the production of the ignition switch - finishing only in September - and distribute repair kits around the country.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that many owners had become increasingly frustrated over the drawn-out timetable for repairs, as dealers have managed wait-lists and drivers have complained to l regulators.
Bill Fox, vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association and a GM dealer in upstate New York, said dealers were taking extra measures to accommodate owners.
“Dealership service centers across the country have been adding staff, expanding service hours and remaining open on holidays to get the work done,” Fox said.
Under GM’s new program, drivers whose cars are fixed will have a choice of $25 cards to Amazon, AMC Theaters, Applebee’s, Bass Pro Shops, Red Robin, Starbucks or Wal-Mart. All owners whose vehicles are repaired in November will be eligible.
The offer applies only to the owners of the 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars that were recalled this year to fix the faulty ignition switch that has been linked to at least 30 deaths. GM has recalled more than 26 million vehicles in the U.S. this year.
Some drivers, though, see GM’s offer as too little, too late. Gerard Vaughan, 64, of Austin, Texas, said he requested the repair six months ago and was still waiting for his white 2005 Saturn Ion to be fixed.
Vaughan said GM’s latest offer was insufficient.
“A $25 gift card? I’m not pleased,” he said. “I don’t really consider it much of an incentive. I’ve already acted, and I’ve been waiting. This is their fault, and I’m looking at other kinds of cars.”