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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs