General Motors has some explaining to do. The lawyer of a woman who was killed in a crash in her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt in 2010 has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require General Motors to explain why it only now recalled 619,122 U.S.-market Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles to replace faulty ignition switches.
According to USA Today, documents from a now-settled civil lawsuit reveal GM knew about the faulty ignition switches since 2004, before it launched the Cobalt or G5. Federal safety rules require automakers to notify the National Highway Traffic Administration within five business days if a problem is discovered with a vehicle.
“Testimony of GM engineers and documents produced in Melton v. General Motors et. al., show that the automaker actually knew about the defective ignition switch in these vehicles in 2004 before it began selling (the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt)”, reads the letter to the NHTSA from Lance Cooper, the plaintiff’s lawyer.
Cooper represents Brooke Melton of Hiram, GA., the woman who died in an accident in her 2005 Cobalt. Data pulled from the vehicle’s black box shows the ignition switch was in the “accessory” position at the time of the accident and not the “run” position, causing the loss of power steering and airbags to be disabled.
In the past, GM has argued that a car can still be steered and stopped safely without power assist to the steering wheel or brakes.
The NHTSA isn’t required to do as Cooper asks and has yet to respond to the request.