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Senate GM Recall Hearing: More of the Same

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Tina Robinson3 years ago

Hearings in the General Motors ignition switch recall continued today in Washington as GM Chief Mary Barra testified before a Senate committee. However, those looking for more information were likely to be disappointed as Barra repeated much of the same rhetoric from Tuesday’s House hearing.

Communication Breakdowns in GM

Committee members focused on how someone like Barra, a long-time high-placed employee, was not informed of the defect. More pointedly, Sen. McCaskill wanted to know why the legal department didn’t alert other areas of the company when information in a Georgia lawsuit showed that the part was redesigned without changing the part number.

Barra testified that “silos” within GM created a communication breakdown that prevented engineers from being told of the defect.

Cost-Benefit Over Safety

Questions were also asked about whether or not GM put cost over safety. Barra insisted that at the new GM, cost is never considered when looking at safety issues. But documents from 2005 show that proposed solutions for the ignition switches were rejected because of cost, stating that none of the solutions were “an acceptable business case.”

Conflicts of Interest

Senators also questioned whether or not GM faced a conflict of interest when deciding whether or not to conduct a recall. Committee members wanted to know if the automaker opted not to recall the vehicles due to costs when it underwent bankruptcy in 2009 or if the bailout also kept GM silent. Barra insisted that customer safety was GM's priority. 


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