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US agency demands recall data from General Motors

DETROIT — US safety regulators are demanding that General Motors turn over reams of documents and other data showing what the company knew and when about a dangerous ignition problem that has been linked to 13 crash deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating how GM handled the problem, which triggered the recall of 1.6 million older-model compact cars. GM has acknowledged it knew of the ignition troubles a decade ago but did not recall the cars until last month.

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In a 27-page order sent Tuesday, the safety agency demanded pictures, memos, electronic communications, engineering drawings, and other data to answer 107 questions about the case. GM spokesman Alan Adler said the company is cooperating.

The agency seeks to determine if whether GM delayed its response or withheld evidence. In either case, it could fine GM up to $35 million. Automakers are required to inform the agency of safety defects within five days of discovering them. Such a fine would be a record for NHTSA.

About 780,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (2005-2007) and 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-07), Chevrolet HHR SUVs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Skys (2006-07) were recalled.

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