General Motors will continue paying its penance following last year’s massive ignition switch recall that affected 30 million units of older vehicles while being linked to the death of at least 104 drivers.
According to The Detroit News, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and General Motors have agreed on terms to extend NHTSA’s oversight period for another year. This requires General Motors to meet with NHTSA government officials once a month and to disclose any and every safety-related issue found in a new vehicle for NHTSA’s analysis.
The extension of the decree also means that General Motors must disclose to NHTSA any possible safety concerns related to its vehicles immediately, including vehicles in early stages of safety investigations by GM. The automaker also must disclose new technical service bulletins or other dealer communications, any decision making associated with safety-related or high-frequency warranty claims or safety-related field reports, and other potential safety defects.
In 2014, GM paid a record $35 million civil penalty for delaying a recall of 2.6 million older vehicles for ignition switch defects that are now linked to at least 104 deaths and more than 175 injuries.
The NHTSA may extend the oversight period to 2017, as it sees fit. But the administration told GM North America General Counsel, Lucy Clark Dougherty, that it was not extending the oversight period due to poor performance on GM’s part.
“GM learned a hard lesson last year,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement late Thursday. “We expect to see the improvements they’ve made continue and that their new approaches are applied to every GM safety issue and every recall. Today’s action will help keep them on the right track.”
In the aftermath of the ignition switch recall, GM CEO Mary Barra has been praised for reorganizing its safety organization, hiring dozens of new safety engineers, and making it a top priority for the automaker. She also fired 15 and disciplined 5 employees related to passing the ignition switch off as safe.