Co. plans a global roll out of “enhanced smart pedal” technology for all of its passenger cars with automatic transmissions and electronic throttle control by the end of 2012.
GM’s decision comes in the wake of a recall byMotor Corp. capturing some 8 million vehicles globally for sticky accelerator pedals and poorly fitting floor mats. The problems have been linked to several fatalities, and Toyota has estimated the recall and bad publicity will cost it some $2 billion.
The phenomenon of unintended acceleration has caused such concern the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. said last week it would it engage the National Academy of Sciences to study the topic, as well as electronic vehicle controls, across the entire industry.
Separately, the U.S. Department of Transportation asked NASA last week to examine software, hardware and other electronics issues possibly causing unintended acceleration.
GM says installation of its brake override system involves modifying electronic controls already on the cars to reduce power if the accelerator and brake are applied at the same time.
The auto maker says for several years all of its vehicles have had to meet a braking performance standard requiring the automobiles to stop with a certain distance. GM characterizes the new brake override system as “an additional safeguard.”
In North America presently, nine GM vehicles carry the feature.
“We know safety is top-of-mind for consumers, so we are applying additional technology to reassure them that they can count on the brakes in their GM vehicle,” GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens says in a statement.
The auto maker also says today it intends to hire more than 100 new workers at a transmission plant in Warren, MI, to support a second shift of production.
GM cites brisk demand for vehicles using the facility’s 6-speed transmissions, such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Traverse, Malibu and Impala, as well as the Buick LaCrosse, Enclave and Lucerne and GMC Acadia and Terrain.
The new jobs will be filled by local United Auto Workers union members currently on layoff, and they will not hire back in at the lower-tier wage rate GM won from organized labor in its last contract negotiations.
After shedding thousands of jobs, both salaried and hourly, as it headed into bankruptcy, the new GM has begun hiring again.
Earlier this year, the auto maker announced new jobs from investments in an engine plant in Tonawanda, NY, and an assembly plant in Lordstown, OH. Upticks in production at assembly plants in Fairfax, KS; Delta Twp., MI; Ingersoll, ON, Canada; and Oshawa, ON, Canada, also have led to new hires and call backs.