Feds Want Answers in GM Ignition-Switch Recall | Edmunds

Feds Want Answers in GM Ignition-Switch Recall


Just the Facts:
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a "timeliness" investigation into how General Motors handled the recall of nearly 1.4 million small cars in the U.S. for ignition-switch problems linked to 13 deaths.
  • "We are a data-driven organization and we will take whatever action is appropriate based on where our findings lead us," said NHTSA in a statement posted on its Web site.
  • "We are fully cooperating with NHTSA and we welcome the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts," GM said in a statement provided to Edmunds.

WASHINGTON The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a "timeliness" investigation into how General Motors handled the recall of nearly 1.4 million small cars in the U.S. for ignition-switch problems linked to 13 deaths.

"We are a data-driven organization and we will take whatever action is appropriate based on where our findings lead us," said NHTSA in a statement posted on its Web site.

GM has until April 3 to respond to a 27-page list of 107 questions.

"We are fully cooperating with NHTSA and we welcome the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts," GM said in a statement provided to Edmunds. "In addition to getting NHTSA the information they need, we are doing what we can now to ensure our customers' safety and peace of mind. We want our customers to know that today's GM is committed to fixing this problem in a manner that earns their trust."

The recall involves the 2005-'07 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-'07 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice, 2007 Pontiac G5 and Saturn Sky and 2003-'07 Saturn Ion. The safety defect concerns a condition in which the vehicle's ignition switch may unintentionally move from the "run" position to the "accessory" or "off" position, resulting in a loss of power.

The defect could cause the airbags not to be deployed in a crash.

Federal safety regulators basically want to know when GM knew about the problem and what the company knew.

NHTSA said the probe will "determine whether GM properly followed the legal processes and requirements for reporting recalls."

One question asks "did GM perform any work in 2008 relate (sic) to the defect that is the subject of this recall, including by investigating crashes in any of the recalled vehicles in which the airbags did not deploy? If so, describe the nature of the work, identify all individuals involved, and provide all related documents."

NHTSA also cited a GM press release from last month in which GM North America President Alan Batey said that GM's "process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been."

Federal safety regulators want GM to "describe in detail the ways in which GM's process ?was not as robust as it should have been' and GM's plans (if any) to change its process."

GM may have been aware of problems with the ignition switches as far back as 2004, but did not initiate a recall until this February.

NHTSA oversees vehicle recalls in the U.S. Automakers must recall vehicles in a timely manner or face stiff federal fines.

On Tuesday GM CEO Mary Barra said the company has launched an internal review "to give us an unvarnished report on what happened."

Her comments were posted on a GM corporate blog.

"We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again," Barra wrote. "We sincerely apologized to our customers and others who have a stake in GM's success.

"Of course, recalls of this size and scope always take time to play out.  Various other parties will naturally be involved, and GM will cooperate fully.  You can expect additional developments in the near term."

Edmunds says: Consumers should get some answers this spring to the many questions prompted by the latest GM recall.

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