After a two-month investigation of General Motors last week, the Feds lambasted the company for its “ability and willingness” to fix defects and said there’s a “broken safety culture” at the automaker.
Last week, General Motors paid a $35 million—the maximum allowed by law—for mishandling its ignition switch recall for 2.6 million cars. Automotive News reports that U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is urging Congress to increase the maximum penalty for future penalties to $300 million as he feels GM’s mishandling is worth more than $35 million.
“What we will never accept is a person or a company who knows danger exists and says nothing. Literally, silence can kill. These penalties should put all automakers on notice that there is no excuse and zero tolerance for failing to notify the federal government when a defect puts safety at risk,” said Foxx at a Washington news conference.
Meanwhile, General Motors may face more fines from the U.S Justice Department, who not too long ago hit Toyota with a $1.2 billion fine related to delayed recalls.
Documents turned over by General Motors show that it was aware of the link between a faulty ignition switch and airbags not deploying before the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009, giving fodder to the argument being made in federal bankruptcy court this month by lawyers for some customers and crash victims who claim GM acted fraudulently by not disclosing the ignition-switch defect as a legal liability five years ago.
“We have learned a great deal from this recall. We will now focus on the goal of becoming an industry leader in safety,” General Motors CEO Mary Barra said in a statement on Friday. “We will emerge from this situation a stronger company.”