Recently General Motors (NYSE:GM) embroiled itself in a controversy regarding defective ignition switches, manufactured in small cars. The company, after detecting the fault, delayed the recall for ten years leading to 13 traffic deaths.
On 29th July, 2005, Amber Marie Rose was the first victim of a car accident (Chevrolet Cobalt) which occurred due to the faulty ignition switch of the car, an investigation said. According to Marie’s birth mother, 29 people has been killed so far, whereas the company has acknowledged only 13.
The company has now recalled 2.6 million cars, but a day late and a dollar short.
In fact, a day before General Motors executives were supposed to testify about the recall, the automaker revealed another recall for 1.3 million cars with faulty power steering units.
The Lists of Vehicles Involved in the Recall
Cobalt’s not the only model, but as of March 28, 2014, quite a few more models have been recalled by the company. They are:
- 2005-2007: Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, (all cars)
- 2003- 2007: Saturn Ion
- 2006- 2007: Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Soltice
- 2005-2006: Pontiac Pursuit (Canada ) and
- 2007: Saturn Sky
- 2008-2010: Pontiac Soltice, Saturn Sky and Chevrolet Cobalt
- 2008- 2011: Chevrolet HHR
Why are These Models Being Recalled?
Investigations confirmed that these are highly accident prone vehicles as, under certain conditions, the ignition switch may cut off power supply to the engines, disabling the power steering and power brakes. If the ignition switch fails to run, the air bags may not deploy in case of an accident which could prove fatal.
Congress claimed explanation from GM new CEO
Ten years since the first accident of the car, GM has finally been asked to give an explanation of their late action. On Tuesday, at a hearing, Congress pressed Marry Barra, new CEO of General Motors, to explain the delay in recalling the defective cars - linked to 13 deaths and dozens of crashes. Even worse than the decade-long stalling, was the fact that the cost to fix the faulty switch was just 57 cent. Apparently, General Motor thought it would be less expensive to fight off a lawsuit than to save human lives.
Lawmakers also questioned the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the accident as to how the agency could miss such a serious event, despite a plethora of complaints from customers. A 2007 incident of airbags not being deployed was also brought under scrutiny.
Relatives of the victims, too, held a press conference expressing their outrage, seeking the answers to some of the same questions. They urged the congressmen to employ strict laws in order to prevent further auto vehicle problems.
CEO’s amends for the company’s non-action
After meeting the house committee, CEO Marry Barra apologized for the company’s misstep. She expressed her deep regret over this delay and claimed that she had no idea why this delay had occurred.
An investigation was already underway, Barra assured the hearing committee, and promised to uncover the truth as soon as possible. She pledged to ensure quality service and vowed that no such mishap would occur in the future.
“As soon as l learned about the problem, we acted without hesitation. We told the world we had a problem that needed to be fixed. We did so because whatever mistakes were made in the past, we will not shirk from our responsibilities now and in the future. Today’s GM will do the right thing," she said.
The company further declared that they are working vigorously to obtain the parts and expect to get the parts by the end of April. They promised to contact the affected customers as soon as possible to replace the faulty parts. The service will not be charged.
Human lives are not a trivial thing. When we purchase a car, we also receive a guarantee of trust that no harm shall befall us, that the company has done everything in its power to prevent any untoward occurrences. General Motors’ action was a breach of that trust.
It is true that the company is doing a lot to make amends. But is it enough? Can lives ever be compensated? Can GM prevent such occurrences in the future? Now, only time can tell us if the leading motor vehicle company of the U.S. can keep its words.