General Motors has recently been on a roll with its product portfolio and industry awards, but the recent 1.6 million-car recall involving a certain ignition switch design is causing concern for the company.
These days, it seems that recalls are a dime a dozen, being more about PR/corporate image than anything else. But for GM, this particular recall seems to carry much bigger repercussions. At least 12 people have died in 31 crashes related to the ignition issue, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This has prompted federal regulators, congressional investigators, and the Justice Department to initiate an inquiry to find out why GM took so long to recall 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstices, and several other vehicles.
As early as 2007, regulators had informed GM about a possible problem with the ignition switch, which could be jostled into a position where power was cut off, causing the airbags to not be activated. But now, the Detroit Free Press reports that an internal investigation has found records showing that GM recognized an issue with the switches as early as 2001, with one 2003 report from an engineer stating that the ignition switch may have been worn out by a heavy key chain.
In a test of her mettle as recently-crowned CEO, Mary Barra has taken the bull by the horns, personally leading the effort to address this recall that has snowballed into GM’s biggest crisis since its bankruptcy almost five years ago.
As if all that wasn’t enough the U.S. Senate subcommittee announced yesterday that it will hold a hearing on this matter in April, complementing a House committee that has already initiated an investigation. Even the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York has begun an inquiry into whether GM may have violated any statutes.
Stay tuned as we let you know how this plays out.