News / USA

General Motors' Chief Apologizes for Deadly Car Crashes

General Motors CEO Mary Barra listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 1, 2014, while testifying before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 1, 2014, while testifying before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation.
VOA News
The chief of the biggest U.S. automaker, General Motors, has apologized to the relatives of 13 people killed in car crashes after her company failed for a decade to disclose a defect in ignition switches that led to the accidents.

Chief executive Mary Barra offered her apology at a congressional hearing in Washington Tuesday. It came after the recent company recall of 2.6 million vehicles it produced from 2005-2010 to fix the problem.

"Today's GM will do the right thing," she said. "That begins with my sincere apology to everyone who has been affected by this recall, especially the families and friends who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry."

Barra, recently named as the GM chief, said she has no idea why it took the company until recently to disclose the ignition switch defect. She pledged to find out why and be "fully transparent" with the information.

The GM chief executive and the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Friedman, were called before the congressional committee to explain why the company and the government agency pushed aside complaints that the faulty ignition systems shut down cars while they were being driven. That in turn disabled the vehicles' electrical systems and prevented airbags from inflating in crashes.

GM's own data on the defect provided to the government shows that it knew of the problem as early as 2001.

In his prepared statement, Friedman said GM had information about the faulty ignition switches but did not disclose it to the government until last month. Drivers, however, had complained to the agency about the ignition problems as early as 2005 and it had information about a fatal accident. Government investigators decided a trend was not evident.
 
Rosie Cortinas (C) holds a photo of her son who was killed Oct. 18, 2013 while driving a Chevy Cobalt, joins other families whose loved ones died behind the wheel defective GM vehicles, during a news conference in Washington, April 1, 2014.Rosie Cortinas (C) holds a photo of her son who was killed Oct. 18, 2013 while driving a Chevy Cobalt, joins other families whose loved ones died behind the wheel defective GM vehicles, during a news conference in Washington, April 1, 2014.
x
Rosie Cortinas (C) holds a photo of her son who was killed Oct. 18, 2013 while driving a Chevy Cobalt, joins other families whose loved ones died behind the wheel defective GM vehicles, during a news conference in Washington, April 1, 2014.
Rosie Cortinas (C) holds a photo of her son who was killed Oct. 18, 2013 while driving a Chevy Cobalt, joins other families whose loved ones died behind the wheel defective GM vehicles, during a news conference in Washington, April 1, 2014.
In recent weeks, GM, the second biggest automaker in the world behind Japan's Toyota Motor, has recalled 6.3 million vehicles - the 2.6 million vehicles in connection with the faulty ignition switches, and another 3.7 million vehicles linked to other safety issues.

Relatives of the victims killed in the crashes held up pictures of their loved ones at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. They condemned GM and the government for ignoring their complaints about the faulty ignition switches.

One victim's mother, Laura Christian, said GM put profits ahead of safety.

"Corporate executives made a decision that fighting a problem was cheaper and easier than fixing a problem," she said

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
April 03, 2014 1:10 PM
First thing off rosies son was not the only one who died in that crash instead of focusing only one of the family focus on the other family that is in as much pain as they are.


by: Astonished
April 02, 2014 12:20 PM
So, Barra apologized. Big deal. I still don't see her stating that General Motors was responsible for what happened. I mean almost every vehicle make and model manufactured by GM is being recalled!!

As for me, I made the mistake of purchasing a brand new Saturn in 2005, and now it has two open recalls on it, one of which they knew about BEFORE I bought the vehicle, and one that was supposedly fixed in 2011, but is being recalled AGAIN. That's 3, count them, 3 recalls on the same vehicle. It is being stored by Chevrolete on one of their dealership lots right now and they can keep it! The first loaner they gave me has been recalled! Even though I was fortunate not to have had a crash or lost a family member, it still means that General Motors was more interested in not spending $.57 on a part than keeping their customers safe. What really infuriates me is that they think that offering a free loaner vehicle and $500.00 down on the purchase of any other GM manufactured vehicle is generous!!!! General Motors should be getting down on their collective knees and begging forgiveness from the families they have destroyed and make restitution without question, not some paultry token giveaway!

THEY CAN KEEP THE CAR PERMANENTLY as far as I'm concerned! Make a planter out of it! I'm NOT putting my family into that rolling time bomb again. Just make GM replace that vehicle with a vehicle of my choice, NON-GENERAL MOTORS manufactured and I'll be happy.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid