For the past several years the poster child for bad ideas in automotive PR has been General Motors. The ignition switch debacle hurt the company in myriad ways. Thanks to stupid moves by VW and other automakers, the GM story has fallen off the front page, but it’s not been forgotten. That’s why a recent decision by GM was so important to the revitalization of that top American-made brand.
GM is recalling more than a million Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups due to a malfunctioning seatbelt. According to the reports, a steel cable connecting the belts could wear and separate over time, which would make the belts come loose and may not hold people in a crash.
In most other contexts, that might mean negative PR, but in this case, it’s a move in the right direction. Instead of ignoring the problem, GM is taking quick and decisive action.
Even better, the company made this decision as a proactive and preventative measure. To date, no related crashes or injuries have been reported. The company said they found the problem while analyzing warranty data. The company issued the recall as a result of these findings, which is exactly how this system is supposed to work. Which is another reason why this announcement is a good thing for the company.
Customers know sometimes things go wrong with mechanical parts and features. Par for the course, totally expected. However, they also expect manufacturers to make the right call when that happens. In other words, protect the customer, not profits. This time, GM made the right call.
This decision may even pay dividends for GM. In recent months, several automakers have been in the news addressing recalls or other issues. VW, for the emissions scandal expected to cost them billions worldwide, Ford for shipping plants to Mexico, a move that enraged many Americans, and Toyota for issuing a necessary recall. Of these, only GM and Toyota could potentially be viewed favorably. Meanwhile, their direct competition will be viewed with growing disfavor. Both brands should carefully capitalize on this opportunity.