Local dealerships, powertrain workers react to GM report - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Local dealerships, powertrain workers react to GM report

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GM CEO Mary Barra released a report on Thursday which found a culture of incompetence and neglect led to a delay in an ignition switch recall that is now linked to at least 13 deaths.

Barra says 15 employees have been fired and five others have been disciplined over the company’s failure to disclose a defect with the ignition switches of 2.6 million older small cars.

The company will also form a compensation program for families of victims and those who suffered serious injuries in accidents related to the switches. The program is expected to begin taking claims August 1st.

Toledo is home to a GM Powertrain Plant and dozens of auto dealerships.

We spoke with local members of the GM family on Thursday about the ripple effect of the controversial recall. 

Workers at the Toledo Transmission plant hesitated to talk to 13abc on camera, but off camera they say the last few years they’ve weathered bankruptcy and a government bailout.  They’re confident the company will pull through this.

Workers at Toledo Transmission build transmissions for GM.  They build more than 5,000 6-speed transmissions every day at the plant.

The facility on West Alexis Road has nothing to do with the faulty ignition switches at the center of the massive recall, according to Ray Wood, the president of the local United Autoworkers Union representing workers.  Over the phone, Wood would not comment on the recall.  He says that’s the corporation.  He has been instructed not to comment from the UAW side of it.

Right now, Powertrain is gearing up to build a new 8-speed transmission which is going in the supercharged Corvette Z06 and the 2015 Corvette Stingray.

The service center at Dave White Chevrolet in Sylvania is doing between 15 and 20 ignition switch recall repairs every day.

Joe Mehling, the General Manager of Dave White Chevrolet, says he expects mechanics will be busy doing them through the summer and into the fall because there are so many.

However, Mehling says auto sales have not taken a hit.

"Currently we haven't had any slowdown in sales whatsoever,” says Mehling.

Mehling says sales at his dealership on Monroe Street are up 12 percent over the year, even in the midst of the controversial GM recall of 2.6 million older cars for defective ignition switches, including Chevrolet Cobalts.

13abc’s Christine Long asks, “Are you worried about the future of being able to sell these cars?”  Mehling answers, “I'm really not because GM got out in front of it. They said we have a problem and we need to fix it and we are fixing it."

"It's good news,” says Marianne Ballas, the President of Ballas Buick and GMC. “It's good news because it's behind us."

Ballas, on the Central Avenue Strip, says none of her Buicks or GMCs were in the recall.

She says May was her best sales month in history: up 30 percent.

"I'm not worried at all,” says Ballas. “I'm encouraged. We have great product. We have great manufacturing. We have great leadership."

Back at Dave White Chevrolet, service technicians are busy fixing recalled cars every day.

"A lot of the cars that are being recalled are eight, nine years old,” says Mehling. “So a lot of these customers, these are second and third owners, so these are customers we have never seen before."

It takes less than an hour to replace an ignition switch, but the service center has to wait for the daily shipment from GM.  It goes by individual VIN number.  The parts coming in are specific to each car.

"We're doing between 15 and 20 of them a day, helping customers out as best we can, providing them with rental cars if necessary,” says Mehling.

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