The Detroit News recently interviewed former GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson regarding the recent ignition switch recalls. He called the delayed 2.59 million-vehicle recall a “clarion call” for change at GM.
“I think we all — including the new and the old part of the management team — didn’t fully realize how deep some of the problems ran,” says Akerson. “I think we built a good foundation. I think the company needed a lot of change, and I said a lot of that culture wasn’t where we wanted it to be.”
During his time as CEO of GM, Akerson became known for his no-nonsense attitude, and has praised Barra for the way she has handled the recall situation, refusing to believe speculation that she had inside knowledge of the problem.
“I was proud that the team faced the facts, brutal as they were, and I think they formulated a plan of recovery and I think that’s something to be proud of. I can’t think of a better leader than Mary.”
A record 28.77 million vehicles have been recalled by GM alone this year in 60 campaigns – a staggering number that beats the entire auto industry’s 22 million vehicles recalled in 2013.
The defective switches in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions, and other cars were known about my some GM employees for more than a decade before recalls began this past February, but Akerson insists that he, the board, and current CEO Mary Barra had no knowledge of the defect before it came to light.
Due to the recalls, a record-setting $35 million fine has been paid to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and GM will face investigations by the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and 45 state attorneys general.