According to court documents, GM bought back at least 13 problematic Chevy Cobalts in the years before it eventually announced the recall in 2014. Some had hoped the automaker would undertake a much larger buyback program in light of revelations about the delay in issuing the recall, but the Detroit News says a March 5 note to GM dealers makes it clear that “General Motors is not offering repurchase as a remedy.”
Instead, affected consumers can get a $500 refund with the “purchase or lease a new 2013/2014/2015 model year Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac.”
A rep for GM, which is currently being probed by federal authorities over discrepancies in its recall times, says that the $500 offer is “In keeping with our commitment to help customers involved in this recall… We have been very clear in our message to dealers that this allowance is not a sales tool and it is only to be used to help customers in need of assistance. Neither GM, nor its dealers will market or solicit owners using this allowance.”
The letter to dealers says this “special cash allowance is effective through April 30.”
There have been at least a dozen deaths associated with the defect, in which vehicles’ ignition switches suddenly revert to the “off” position, causing the vehicle to stall and disabling important systems like airbags. The recall now involves more than a million vehicles, including 2005-07 Cobalts, 2007 Pontiac G5, 2003-07 Saturn Ion, 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and the 2007 Saturn Sky.