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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GM Issues Recall for Blazers

U.S. carmaker General Motors Corp. initiated Russia's first automobile recall last week, instructing distributors to check all Chevrolet Blazer vehicles built from car kits produced in Brazil.

But the move has brought the company under fire from allegations in the Russian media that the car's defects could pose safety hazards.

George Baker, General Motors' Moscow representative, said the Blazer's recall -- a measure virtually unheard of in Russia -- was misunderstood by the media.

"Throughout the world we have recalls just like any other major automotive manufacturing company," Baker said. "What we have here is an educational issue. The public has to realize a recall is an event that is in the best interest of the consumers."

Reports in the Russian media last week said GM had recalled 40,000 defective Blazers produced at its plant in Brazil and that many Blazer kits had already been sent to the GM assembly plant in Yelabuga, Tatarstan.

However, GM says the defects pertain only to ball joints produced on a single day, July 5, 1996, and affect only 11,000 cars. Of these, just 250 were sent to Russia.

Baker said Russian distributors were immediately instructed to contact buyers and check the vehicles. More than two-thirds of the Blazers from that shipment have been checked, he said, adding that only one defective vehicle has been discovered so far.

Baker said it is unclear if sales have been affected by the adverse publicity, but regardless, the company is planning a media campaign to set the picture right.

Last December, General Motors kicked off a $250 million joint venture, dubbed Yelaz-GM, to assemble Chevrolet Blazer off-road vehicles in Yelabuga, Tatarstan. The venture is using some Brazilian-made car kits while it works on increasing the amount of locally produced components.

Sales of the Russian-made Blazer should hit the 1,000 mark within weeks, Baker said.

Oksana Sazonova, a saleswoman at official GM distributor Trinity Motors, confirmed the dealership was notified last week but said none of the cars checked were defective.