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Fire-risk Caddies set for NZ recall

Fire fix: An over-heating windcreen washer warmer has forced the recall of 1.5 million GM cars, including the Cadillac CTS.

Cast-off Cadillacs from Australia may be subject of safety recall across the Tasman

General Motors logo9 Jun 2010

AUSTRALIA’S gain might be New Zealand’s pain in the latest round of safety recalls by General Motors.

The recall of 1.5 million GM vehicles is believed to include 89 Cadillac CTS luxury sedans originally imported into Australia by Holden’s GM Premium Brands before being re-exported to New Zealand after the collapse of plans to introduce the iconic American brand here in 2009.

The cars were sold to an independent NZ distributor who has been selling them to well-heeled buyers in NZ since June 2009.

The Cadillac CTS is among 18 models subject to a recall advised by GM after the company learned that a faulty windscreen washer fluid heater – designed to defrost windscreens in super-cold climates – could pose a fire risk.

Most of the 1.5 million vehicles – more than one million – were sold to customers in the United States, with others going to Canada, Mexico and a range of other countries, including New Zealand.

According to Holden, the NZ distributor will liase with GM’s Detroit head office to implement the fix, which simply involves scrapping the heater unit and re-routing the washer pipes.

According to official figures published by the Motor Industry Association NZ, 119 new Cadillacs have been sold to Kiwis since June last year, with almost half of them registered in the first month of CTS sales.

 center imageFrom top: Chevrolet Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade and Buick Enclave.

The Cadillac CTS – built on GM’s Sigma II rear-drive platform – was to have paved the way for Cadillac’s reintroduction into Australia in 2008.

After being delayed until the first quarter of 2009 when the global financial crisis struck, the project was postponed indefinitely by Holden’s then chairman and managing director Mark Reuss in January last year, just two weeks before the launch. The plans remain in mothballs.

The shipment of 89 right-hand-drive Cadillac CTS sedans had already arrived for the model's debut, earmarked primarily for dealer demonstrator duties and corporate tasks, such as press and dealer launch roles. Instead, they were sold as a job lot to NZ.

The latest GM recall is the second attempt to fix the heater problem, which GM says has resulted in a number of fires but no crashes or injuries. Last August, GM recalled about 858,000 cars and trucks after reports of fires resulting from a short-circuiting system. Dealers installed a wire harness that contained a fuse.

After five more reports of fires in vehicles, GM has decided to remove the unit altogether and pay each vehicle owner or lessee $US100 compensation.

The latest recall affects 2007-2009 model cars, trucks and crossovers that, apart from the Cadillac CTS, includes the Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, Hummer H2, Buick Enclave, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chev Silverado, Chev Suburban, Chev Tahoe, GMC Acadia, GMC Sierra, GMC Yukon, Saturn Outlook and Chevrolet Traverse.

GM’s executive director of safety, Jeff Boyer, said: “While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind.

“We always want to make sure customers can count on the safety and quality of their GM vehicle.”

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