Barra Speaks at Industry Conference, Questioned About GM Recall
General Motors Chief Mary Barra appeared on Tuesday at an auto industry trade show in New York hoping to discuss new GM vehicles. Instead, reporters questioned Barra about the ignition switch recall, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Barra Silent about DOJ Investigation
Barra’s appearance at the NADA/JD Power Automotive Forum on Tuesday was the first public appearance by GM’s CEO since the ignition switch recall was announced in February. Reporters wanted to know about a pending criminal probe of the automaker and when GM would provide the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with all of the information the agency had requested.
Barra avoided the questions and said she was unaware of whether the Department of Justice had requested information from the automaker. In reference to the two thirds of NHTSA questions that went unanswered earlier this month, Barra only said, “We are working on those every day.” She failed to provide any sort of timeline as to when those answers would be completed.
GM Sticking to Schedule
Barra did confirm GM planned to adhere to a 45 to 60 day schedule to complete an internal investigation headed by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas. “We are focused on getting through [our internal] investigation, but we are trying to be as responsive as possible. We will not sacrifice the accuracy,” Barra said.
Last week NHTSA announced that it would begin levying a $7000 per day fine against GM for not providing information in a timely manner. The safety agency also said it could turn the matter over to the Justice Department for further action. At the end of the day Tuesday, GM had been fined a total of $84,000.
Blumenthal Requests Specifics on Repairs
Reporters also asked Barra about a request made by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to make public the details of the replacement ignition switches. Specifically, Blumenthal wanted to know the number of switches and lock replacements shipped and a timeline of when all dealerships would have enough parts to make the necessary repairs. Barra declined to comment stating the automaker answers to NHTSA.
Although GM has said it began shipping replacement ignition switches on April 7, some dealerships surveyed said they had not received parts. GM had previously said it expected it to take until October for all of the recalled vehicles to be repaired.
GM to Form Product Integrity Organization
After Barra’s speech, GM Global Product Chief Mark Reuss was made available for comments. Reuss announced that GM would form a product integrity organization that would include Jeff Boyd, president of global vehicle safety. Boyd was announced to the newly created position in March as part of GM's efforts to improve safety. Reuss did not provide specifics about the organization but said its formation was “a long time coming.”
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