GM recalls almost 3 million vehicles, to take charge of up to $200 million

The U.S. flag flies at the Burt GM auto dealer in Denver June 1, 2009. RTEUTERS/Rick Wilking

By Ben Klayman DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co said on Thursday it has issued five more recalls, covering almost 3 million vehicles globally, and is expected to take a charge of up to $200 million. Still dealing with fallout from the recall of defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths, the No. 1 U.S. automaker said the largest of the latest recalls covers more than 2.7 million cars for tail lamp malfunctions, including the Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura cars. The other four recalls cover Malibu, Chevy Corvette sports cars, Cadillac CTS sedans and full-size trucks and SUVs. Most of the vehicles were sold in the United States. GM said the new actions were a result of the sharper focus the company has put on safety issues following the recall earlier this year of 2.6 million vehicles for the faulty switch. So far this year, GM has recalled almost 12.8 million vehicles globally, easily topping the 9 million recalled in the previous five years combined. "We have redoubled our efforts to expedite and resolve current reviews in process and also have identified and analyzed recent vehicle issues which require action," GM's global vehicle safety chief, Jeff Boyer, said in a statement. Boyer said in an interview that the company's focus has been on the frequency and severity of any potential problems. He added GM continues to study how it handles recalls for further improvement in the process. GM is under investigation by U.S. safety regulators, Congress, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and several states for its handling of the defective ignition switch, which engineers first discovered in 2001. GM has been criticized for failing to detect the faulty part and for not recalling the vehicles earlier. GM expects to complete an internal probe of its handling of the issue within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, GM's board has hired New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to provide advice regarding the company's handling of the ignition switch recall, said a person familiar with the matter. The law firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment and GM declined to comment. The Detroit company said it expected to take a charge of up to about $200 million in the second quarter for the latest recalls, mostly for the cost of repairs. In the first quarter, GM took a charge of $1.3 billion mostly related to the ignition switch recall. Of the 2,991,140 vehicles recalled on Thursday, more than 2.7 million were sold in the United States, more than 201,000 in Canada, more than 1,200 in Mexico and more than 76,000 were exported outside North America. In the tail lamp recall, GM said it was aware of several hundred complaints, 13 crashes and two injuries. It had issued a dealer service bulletin for the problem in 2008 and recalled a smaller number of vehicles in January 2009. GM said it was not aware of any fatalities related to Thursday's recalls. In the Malibu recall, GM caught a potential faulty brake issue on April 24, during development of an upcoming model, and after further testing ordered a recall on May 7, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. GM shares were down 1.7 percent at $34.33 on Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange. (Additional reporting by Alison Frankel in New York; editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid and Matthew Lewis)