Holden has issued its thirteenth safety recall notice this year — more than any other brand in Australian automotive history.
The latest recalls affect three models. Manual transmission versions of the Holden Barina small car and Trax SUV can unintentionally “bunny hop” should the driver leave the car in gear, turn the engine off and then leave the key in the ignition.
And the two seatbelts in the back row of the Colorado SUV can lock into position if the car is parked on a hill.
Holden says it has received at least five reports of the unintentional Barina “bunny hop” but “there have been no reports of accidents or injuries relating to this condition”.
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Holden will now recall approximately 9188 Barina and Trax models and 3116 Colorado SUVs. The repairs will be made free of charge.
Australian-made Holdens account for more than half of the recalls so far this year.
The locally-made Holden Commodore has been recalled five times this year and the Holden Cruze has been recalled twice (one of which was the third recall for the same fault initially reported last year).
But Holden still insists the Commodore does not need to be recalled for a faulty ignition switch even though 46,000 export versions of the Australian-made Commodore and Caprice were recalled in the US earlier this month, as part of a safety campaign involving a record 2.6 million cars there.
In doing so Holden has avoided what would become the biggest single recall in Australian automotive history as it would involve approximately 432,000 Commodores made since 2006.
Holden engineers insist the General Motors ignition fault linked to at least 19 deaths across a number of models sold in the US does not affect Commodores in Australia because the position of the key is different.
Holden says it has issued a record number of recalls locally because it is erring on the side caution after its parent company General Motors became involved in a recall scandal in the US, which also cost the jobs of several top executives following years of cover-ups.
When asked why Holden had issued so many recalls, spokeswoman Kate Lonsdale said: “This is consistent with the approach being taken across (General Motors).”
The latest round of safety notices means Australia is on track to recall almost as many cars as have been sold in 2014.
In the first eight months of this year, 789,000 vehicles had been recalled compared with 737,000 new vehicles sold over the same period.
But the tally to September means the number of new cars sold (832,000) has edged ahead of those recalled so far this year (803,000).
The last time more cars were recalled than sold in a year was in 2001, according to Wheels magazine.
Among the other Top Five brands Mazda has issued three recalls, Hyundai has issued two and Ford has issued one.
The Commodore and Cruze are made at Holden’s factory in Elizabeth on the outskirts of Adelaide, but the Barina and Trax models are made in South Korea and the Colorado is made in Thailand, where Holden is likely to source more cars from once it closes its Australian factories in 2017.
Holden already sources most of the vehicles in its line-up from South Korea or Thailand but the company says in the future it will source vehicles from several divisions across the General Motors world.
The next Commodore is likely to be sourced from Opel in Germany along with the Astra hatch.
Meanwhile, authorities in the US found that General Motors knew of the ignition faults for 10 years but hid them and failed to take appropriate action.
The scandal prompted US Senators to propose “life in prison” for car executives who try to hide recalls, and has led to a class-action lawsuit against General Motors by at least 650 owners of the affected cars.