GM Korea, which has set record-high domestic sales target for this year, came under controversy over the product quality of its main models – the Spark and Cruze – from the beginning of the year.
According to industry sources on Feb. 14, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport began an investigation into safety related defects as some Spark cars were recently found to have defects that shut off the engine. GM Korea sent related data to the Korea Apparel Testing and Research Institute under the Korea Transportation Safety Authority and formed a task force team to find the cause.
The company is taking quick action but the stalling is highly likely to adversely affect its sales due to the fact that it will take at least three months to find out the cause and it is not the first time the Spark stalled.
In 2013, customers complained that the Spark S had an engine stalling problem and GM Korea offered an update on an electronic control unit (ECU), a component related to revolutions per minute (RPM) of the engine, only to the Spark S whose engine shut off while idling at its official service centers across the nation. At that time, GM Korea said it confirmed that the problem was solved with the ECU update, and proceeded with updates for the stocked cars instead of recalls or free repair services. Earlier, the Matiz CVT, which was the earlier model of the Spark, also stalled while driving.
The Spark is not the only model that stirred recent controversy over GM Korea’s product quality. GM Korea halted the production of the All New Cruze on February 9 due to some problems associated with an airbag component in eight days after starting mass production. As the delivery of the vehicles and the initiation of sale previously scheduled for this month are likely to be put off, it has drawn many complaints from some sales labor-union members and customers.
The new Cruze already caused controversy before the release in Korea as the domestic model comes with six airbags unlike the North American model with 10 airbags. In addition to the number of airbags, the North American model is featured with the fourth-generation advanced airbag, which can control the distending pressure considering the body of driver and passengers and impact strength in a vehicle crash, while the Korean model is equipped with the second-generation depowered airbag.