Did Former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner Know About Ignition Defects?4
General Motors has claimed its most senior executives, including CEO Mary Barra and former CEO Dan Akerson, had no prior knowledge of the defective ignition switch found in millions of the automaker’s small vehicles. However the company’s recent internal investigation subsequent report on the matter may indicate that the problem wasn’t always a mystery to GM’s high-ups.
Bloomberg says the report reveals Rick Wagoner, who served as CEO before Akerson’s tenure, may have seen a presentation three weeks before his departure from the company which described the stalling issues experienced in the Chevrolet Cobalt. The report says he opened a computer file about a presentation in March of 2009 that summarized the meeting of a GM review team discussing the problem. He also exchanged emails with the person who provided the summary notes of the meeting, but they made no mention of the ignition defect.
The presentation included slides which focused on warranty costs and didn’t label the stalling problem as a safety defect. It also didn’t mention links between the problem, which was only identified as a stalling issue, and any accidents, deaths or injuries caused as a result of it.
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My take on this was this.
The ignition was approved and some engineers knew it was bad.
They never thought it was bad enough to be a danger or a major risk and if any failed the dealers or customers would just replace them.
The issue proved to be more of a problem after they found the Airbags were not active but with so few deaths vs. so many cars built no one noticed.
Legal came in and tried to cap this with no escalation.
The top either did not know for two reasons. One in GM for the most the reporting goes from the top down and not the bottom up. This is well documented as one of their great issues that many have been working to change.
Second Legal stopped it to present plausible deniability to the leaders and to cover for those who knew.
This was the culture of GM at that era and odds are great that few knew and those who did either could not communicate it or were afraid to do so.
Rick was really not a bad guy and is the one who get much of the blame for the sins of those who preceded him. He really did do a lot to set the new GM in motion and set the stage for better products and a changed culture. He was the one CEO that admitted he did not know product and worked to bring Lutz in to change Product and Culture.
Rick did make some mistakes but he like everyone else does not walk on water.
Most of the leadership at GM was all about numbers and accounting and knew so little about the product, quality and recalls unless they were so glaring that they could not be missed.
Just look at a 04 Malibu, Aztek or 01 Impala and tell me that management knew much of what was going on with the product. That was one of the greatest issues.
To me it is looking like Legal is the one with the dirtiest fingers in this deal.
This is a cheap shot by Bloomberg made up entirely of “maybes”. Get facts or leave Wagoner alone. His only real fault was that he was protective of his team. Next the media will try to drag Lutz into this as well.
The real story is in the proof and they have none.
If someone can prove something then hell have at it but speculation on everyone and anyone at GM does no one any good.
3 weeks before he was fired? I think he was pretty busy trying to keep the company from going into bankruptcy and would not be worried about some little note in the back of a presentation that said Cobalts may be stalling.