General Motors is attempting to right past wrongs involved with its ignition switch recall, but the automaker is digging its heels when it comes to expanding the breadth of its victims’ fund.
The compensation plan covers 2.6 million cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt and similar General Motors vehicles that used the same ignition mechanism. However, it doesn’t cover the separate June 30 recall of 7.6 million vehicles that include the Chevrolet Malibu, of which GM is aware of seven crashes, eight injuries, and three deaths. GM claims there is a difference between the two recalls, which is why the latter isn’t included in the compensation plan.
According to The New York Times, safety advocates aren’t happy about this. “The compensation fund should be open clearly and readily to anyone who suffered death or injury as a result of these similar defects which were concealed in the same reprehensible way,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said on Friday.
One day earlier, Senator Blumenthal asked for an explanation from General Motors CEO Mary Barra to show and justify the distinctions between the two recalls. Barra responded that the GM’s compensation plan related to “very specific issues” and “a series of mistakes that were made over a long period of time” with the Cobalt and similar vehicles.
However, some claim the facts of the recall for the Malibu and similar vehicles are the same as the Cobalt’s – General Motors learned of problems in the other vehicles more than a decade before issuing a recall. The president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety advocacy group, Rosemary Shahan, sees similarities. “The basic problem is that GM made a lot of ignitions that make cars prone to die in traffic, and that’s dangerous … [the compensation program] should cover everybody injured by a GM product. Why is it limited now, just because this is a defect with the most notoriety? What’s the justice in that?”