The GM ignition switch recall imbroglio has set off a rancorous debate in Congress and in the business world. Consumer advocates are not only furious at General Motors; they are also quite angry with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
So what’s the current status of the GM recall? Why are so many observers of the situation so up in arms?
General Motors’ executives recently testified before Congress about a massive problem with GM vehicles’ ignition switches. These bad switches have been blamed for 13 deaths (potentially more); they can accidentally impede a vehicle’s airbags, power breaking, and power steering systems. The automaker has plans in place to replace faulty parts in all vehicles by October, but the incredibly slow pace of the recall has make people upset.
Customer complaints about the faulty switches reached top management in GM way back in 2005, but GM engineers continued to use the bad parts in vehicles for years afterwards. Critics blame both the molasses-like bureaucracy at GM and the NHTSA, which knew about the ignition switch problem back in 2007, but which did nothing until very recently to demand accountability and to protect drivers and GM owners.
GM also received tremendous largess during the government’s auto industry bailout in 2009. The United States Treasury invested $51 billion into the company to help resuscitate the auto industry (and, indirectly, Detroit’s economy).
GM’s prexy, Mary Barra, recently testified before Congress that GM’s culture had changed and that the company would do everything possible to be transparent. She attempted to frame the recall issue as a problem of the “old” GM culture and promised that the new, reorganized company would offer more transparency and focus on customer safety.
However, the company failed to meet an April 3 deadline to answer 107 questions posed by the NHTSA about the defect, prompting the agency to fine GM $7,000 a day, until it provides the necessary answers.
Kevin Vincent – Counsel for the NHTSA – expressed disappointment that GM refused to answer these questions. Why DID the company persist in using defective ignition switches? Why won’t the company explain itself clearly?
Senator Claire McCaskill did not mince words in her criticism of GM: “If GM is truly committed to the transparency they promised, they need to cooperate fully with safety officials – and their failure to turn over the necessary documents is a troubling start to the next phase of this process.”
If you or someone you love has been injured by a GM defective part – or any other defective auto part – the team here at Regan Zambri & Long can advocate aggressively for your rights and fair compensation. Call us today at (202) 463-3030 for a free consultation.