Former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson says neither him nor current CEO Mary Barra knew the company had millions of vehicles on the road with defective ignition switches, according to a recent report from Forbes.
Conspiracy theorists believe Barra was thrown under the bus by Akerson and other GM executives, who they say knew about the potential defect before Akerson left the position on January 15. Akerson claimed Barra didn’t know about the defect when she assumed the role in an interview earlier this week, and now says he was equally as uninformed.
“If I knew about it, she’d have known about it. And I didn’t know about it,” said Akerson.
GM Chairman Tim Solso also said he was unaware of the defect when he took over the role earlier this year and said that the automaker initially underestimated its scope.
“I became non-executive chairman in mid-January and I assure you I did not know anything about it at that point. Right after she knew, she called me,” Solso said.
He said there was nothing “extraordinary” about the initial conversation regarding the recall between him and Barra, adding they “didn’t know the depth and all the circumstances” until later.
Even though GM has acknowledged that some employees knew about the problems, Barra believes she wasn’t set up for failure, adding that it was a coincidence that the issue surfaced just weeks after she took over as CEO.
“I believe this issue came up, and we learned about it, the leadership learned about it on Jan 31 and we’re dealing with it, and it just happened to be two weeks after I officially came into this job,” she said.