According to documents released today by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, General Motors CEO Mary Barra was made aware in 2011 of a steering loss defect in Saturn Ions that were not recalled until March 31 of this year, in apparent response to our request of March 19.
We made the recall demand after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had ordered a recall in March 2010 of Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s for the steering loss defect but three years later had not yet ordered a recall of Saturn Ions, which have the same power steering system.
Barra has denied having knowledge of an ignition switch flaw but has not said anything about the steering loss defect, which is a separate problem that affects many of the same vehicles, such as the Chevy Cobalt.
In 2011, Barra was head of product development. An October 3, 2011 email to Barra from another GM executive references a New York Times article that reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) believed that the Ions should have been recalled along with the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. It is not known why NHTSA did not order the recall, which it had the power to do.
In my March 19 letter to Barra, I wrote,” “We do not know why NHTSA has not already ordered a recall or whether politics enter into its decision-making process. It doesn’t matter. You have the authority to immediately recall these vehicles.”
During Capitol Hill hearings last week, Barra sought to draw a distinction between the “Old GM” and today’s company. The October 2011 email was post-bankruptcy. Today’s revelations raise more questions about Barra’s credibility and veracity.