A lot more than a decade in the past, in the wake of the Ford-Firestone security crisis, Congress passed a new “early warning” technique to allow government regulators to gather data, identify trends and warn shoppers of possible defects in automobiles.
The big question on Capitol Hill this week is why that method did not catch the ignition switch defect that is now blamed for 13 fatalities in General Motors Common Motors autos.
1 reason no person linked the dots: GM and the National Highway Traffic Security Administration have been looking at different clues in their review of a series of deadly accidents.
Whilst NHTSA was investigating why new superior air bag methods did not trigger as expected, GM was looking at why the ignition switch in the Chevrolet Cobalt and other small vehicles shut off unexpectedly. Neither noticed enough of a pattern to warrant further action.
The connection among the 2 difficulties – the loss of engine energy deactivated the airbag – wasn’t disclosed until February, when GM announced the recall of 619,000 automobiles to replace faulty ignitions. (A complete of 2.2 million affected cars have since been recalled for the same difficulty.)
“G.M. had crucial information that would have helped determine this defect,” NHTSA’s acting administrator, David Friedman, mentioned in written testimony filed in advance of Tuesday’s hearing prior to the House Committee on Vitality and Commerce’s oversight subcommittee. Had his agency identified earlier of the prospective hyperlink between the ignition switch and the non-deployment of airbags, NHTSA’s investigation may have taken a diverse tack, Friedman said.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra, meanwhile, isn’t providing excuses, but is trying to steer consideration to what GM is performing now to satisfy its consumers. “Sitting here today, I cannot inform you why it took many years for a security defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will locate out,” she said in ready testimony. “When we have answers, we will be totally transparent with you, with our regulators, and with our customers.”
Meanwhile, GM has stepped up its review of likely security concerns, resulting in a slew of new recalls. On Monday, GM mentioned would recall more than 1.3 million automobiles in the U.S. that may encounter a sudden loss of electrical electrical power steering.
The cost of all those recalls is starting up to include up. GM said it now expects to take a charge of up to $ 750 million in the very first quarter, up from a previously disclosed $ 300 million announced last month. That would essentially wipe out all of the company’s net profit for the quarter, based mostly on analysts’ average earnings estimates. GM had been anticipated to earn about $ 5.9 billion this year.