GM's 'poorly' handled recall won't scare off buyers


There's good news and bad news as General Motors works to move past the ignition switch recall crisis.

The bad news: A majority of those who have followed the investigation and recall of 2.6 million models due to defective ignition switches say the automaker handled the problem poorly.

The good news: Almost 60 percent of those surveyed said the recall issue will make no difference the next time they consider buying a GM car.

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New cars sit on the lot of a Chevrolet dealership in Colma, California.
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The results of the CNBC All-America Economic Survey are the latest sign that the scandal, which has been linked to at least 54 accidents and 13 deaths, hasn't scared consumers away from GM showrooms, despite four months of steady headlines.

Recall was poorly handled

The survey of 815 people around the U.S. found that the more familiar Americans were with the ignition switch recall, the more they thought the company handled the situation poorly.

More than half of those who were more familiar with the story—55 percent—said GM handled the recall poorly. By comparison, just one out of every three people who said they had heard some, but not a lot about the situation, said the automaker handled the recall poorly.

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The four-day survey concluded on June 5, the day GM released the results of its internal investigation into why the automaker waited so long to act on the ignition switch issue. It's unclear what effect the release of the investigation's findings may have had on those surveyed.

Buyers still heading to GM showrooms

Despite 35 percent of respondents saying GM did a poor job handling the ignition switch recall, many of those same people said it would not stop them from considering a Chevy, Cadillac, GMC or Buick model the next time they buy a new vehicle.

But once again, there was a noticeable difference in attitudes between those who had heard some or a lot about the recall.

Sixty percent of those who heard some, but not a lot about the recalls, said the controversy would make no difference in whether they would consider purchasing a GM model. By comparison, only 48 percent of people who have heard a lot about the story said the recall would have no effect on their decision to buy a GM vehicle in the future.

The results confirm what many dealers have seen over the last four months. Customer traffic into GM showrooms has been steady despite the seemingly constant flow of bad news about the automaker.

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So far this year, GM sales in the U.S. are up 2 percent while the industry as a whole is up more than 4 percent.

CNBC's All-America Survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.

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