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.
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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

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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.

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