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General Motors has told dealers in the U.S. and Canada to stop selling 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes because of a potential defect in air bags made by beleaguered air bag supplier Takata.

06/25/2014

"Certain vehicles may be equipped with a suspect driver's air bag inflator module that may have been assembled with an incorrect part," GM spokesmen Jim Cain said in a statement. "We are working diligently with the supplier of the defective part to identify specific vehicles affected and expect to resume deliveries by the end of this week once those vehicles are identified."

GM, which notified dealers of the stop-sale order on Tuesday, said it has identified about 33,000 Cruzes, mostly in the U.S. and Canada, that may have been built with parts from the bad batch and said it believes it is close to identifying all the problem cars. Once it does, GM can lift the order because dealers will be able to isolate the cars with suspect module and sell the cars that are OK.

A stop-sale order is not a recall and the company has had no comment so far regarding whether that bad part may be in some cars already sold and on the road.

The halt could put a dent in GM's June sales. Introduced in 2009, the Cruze is GM's top-selling car and its No. 2-selling vehicle of any kind after the Chevy Silverado pickup. GM has sold 119,330 Cruzes this year through May, or 18.4% more than it did in the first five months of 2013, according to Autodata..

That airbag issue is different from a problem with the chemical propellant degradation of Takata airbags on older model cars that caused more recalls this week and since 2008 has caused seven automakers to recall nearly 10 million cars worldwide.

GM's Cruze stop-sale order, first reported by Automotive News, is the latest setback for GM which has already recalled more vehicles this year than in any year in its history. GM has been under intense scrutiny since February for a defective ignition switch in older model Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac 6, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky cars.

So far, GM's sales have continued to climb unaffected, but the suspension of sales will put a dent in Cruze sales in the last week of June.

The Cruze stop-sale order follows one last month for about 3,500 new pickups and SUVs as GM investigates an undisclosed "issue" with the trucks.

And this is the second stop-sale order on the Cruze this year. The first was in March -- an at-first unexplained order covering 2013 and 2014 models with the 1.4-liter engine. It was followed a few days later with a recall of nearly 175,000 of the cars for a potentially defective right front axle shaft.
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