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GM Ignition / Air Bag Recall: “Terrible Things Happened”


General Motors


In a stark message to employees, GM CEO Mary Barra said “terrible things happened” with respect to GM’s handling of an ignition switch defect that could shut down a vehicle while at highway speeds, cutting off power steering, power braking, and even the air bags.

“Something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things happened.  We will be better because of this tragic situation if we seize the opportunity.  And I believe we will do just that.”

– GM CEO Mary Barra (via Time Magazine)

In addition, GM recalled an additional 1.5 million vehicles – this time for faulting wiring for seat-mounted side air bags.  New vehicles involved include:

  • 2008-2013 Buick Enclave
  • 2008-2013 GMC Acadia
  • 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse
  • 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook

GM remains under intense scrutiny – and federal investigation – over its handling of the ignition switch defect, which GM knew about for at least 10 years, but only recalled just this year.  The US Department of Justice will determine whether or not GM violated criminal or civil law by failing to timely notify safety officials about the vehicle defects.

GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, is trying to spin GM’s safety lapse into a “teachable moment”, at least in her public comments.  But do GM’s actions speak louder than its words?  GM still has not accepted responsibility for injuries that occurred before it exited bankruptcy.  Will GM leave these victims out in the cold?  And how will GM ensure something like this never happens again?

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