During a Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance hearing held on Wednesday, subcommittee Chairwoman Claire McCaskill called a 2006 ignition switch redesign done by General Motors a cover-up.
“We don’t know how many people crashed because of this cover-up. We do know that many died.” – Chairwoman Claire McCaskill as published by Detroit News
During Wednesday’s hearing, Chairwoman McCaskill referenced documents showing that GM engineer Ray DeGiorgio had signed off on a design change in April 2006; however, in a deposition in a case involving a Chevy Cobalt crash, DeGiorgio claimed that he knew nothing about the 2006 redesign.
In 2006, General Motors redesigned a defective ignition switch but did not change the switches model number. Members of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance speculated that this was done to avoid the switches being publicly linked to a number of fatal accidents.
In a briefing presented before members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Delphi Automotive, the company responsible for manufacturing the switches, revealed that both the original 2002 ignition switch and the redesigned 2006 ignition switch failed to meet GM’s company specifications but were approved nonetheless.
According to USA Today, Chairwoman McCaskill commented that a culture of cover up created by GM allowed DeGiorgio to lie under oath.
“This is criminal deception. I don’t see this as anything but criminal.” – Senator Kelly Ayotte as published by Detroit News
Many of the Senate Sub-Committee members suggested that criminal charges could be filed against anyone who intentionally concealed safety information from NHTSA or the public.
Senator Barbara Boxer expressed suspicion towards suggestions that none of the high-level executives were informed of the potential links between the faulty ignition switches and fatal accidents, especially as the company faced multiple lawsuits making such claims.
In the least, DeGiorgio will likely be reprimanded for lying under oath; however, as of yet, the GM engineer has not been terminated and continues to work in his current position.
So far the defective ignition switches have resulted in at least 13 deaths and 31 frontal collisions.