GM CEO Barra Knew About Steering Defect in 2011

BarraAccording 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 … Read More ➡

Can GM’s March Sales Figures Be Trusted?

On April 1st, General Motors announced that they were having “computer system” issues and that their March sales figures would not be released until later in the day. The company eventually reported a year over year sales gain of about four percent versus an estimate of less than a one percent gain. This came as GM CEO, Mary Barra, was preparing to testify at hearings over the recent GM recall scandal which is reported to have contributed to at least 13 deaths. Coincidentally, GM share price had been taking a hit as well.

My immediate thought during the sales release delay was that the company was not quite done cooking the numbers. Of course, this is speculative and just my opinion, but the fact that GM has been anything but trustworthy in the past led others to share my sentiment. One website title read, “General Motors Delays Sales Announcement Due Read More ➡

Energy Dept. Revives Stimulus Loans as Another Electric Vehicle Co. Stalls

Frito Lay Electric TruckAs Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced last week a renewed push to provide $16 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for “clean” technology vehicles, more bad news emerged from another stimulus-funded electric vehicle company over the weekend.

Smith Electric Vehicles, the truck company that was supposed to “make it” because electrification made so much sense for short, urban delivery routes, halted production at the end of 2013. A quarterly report at Recovery.gov attributed the stoppage to “the company’s tight cash flow situation.”

While not a beneficiary of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program that Moniz wants to revive, Smith Electric is another reason why subsidies of any type for this floundering pseudo-industry – loans, grants, tax breaks, etc. – are enormous wastes. In light of the hundreds of millions of dollars that other companies like Fisker Automotive, Ecotality and A123 Systems received, Smith’s $32 million in grants is comparatively … Read More ➡

GM Attempted Ludicrous ‘Fix’ for Defective Ignitions in 2005

General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, testified this week at government hearings on the deadly recall delay that contributed to at least 13 deaths of motorists driving GM vehicles with defective ignition switches. During that testimony Ms. Barra discussed one of GM’s ridiculous early “solutions” for problems with ignitions turning to the off position as vehicles were being driven. GM engineers designed an insert to be placed in the keys’ holes in an attempt to limit how much key chains dangled. This “fix” saved the company a few dollars in labor costs that would have been charged if they recalled the vehicles to replace the defective ignitions.

Ms. Barra did not seem to think that this solution was as ludicrous as I do and the government investigative team did not press the issue. Maybe future hearings will question why such an absurd solution was offered.

NBC News reported that GM engineers … Read More ➡

Barra Can’t Blame ‘Old GM’ for Today’s Problems

Roll Call mastheadRoll Call published my piece today. It was written before the recall of 1.5 million vehicles for steering loss, in apparent response to our March 19 request.

Why did General Motors wait a full decade to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles that have been connected to 13 deaths and dozens of injuries?

Most of the questions at this week’s Congressional hearings will certainly focus on who knew what, and when they knew it. The answers, and how they relate to the 2009 government bailout of GM, could have political and criminal implications. When it comes to questions of vehicle safety, congressional investigators no doubt will find that the bailout only enabled a culture of mediocrity at GM.

The 2009 auto industry bailout meant goodbye to the “Old GM” and ushered in the “New GM.” The GM bankruptcy agreement granted legal immunity to the automaker for all incidents prior to … Read More ➡

Modica: GM Hid Ignition Defect From Bankruptcy Judge

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was a guest last night on The Willis Report on Fox Business Network.

Here’s a transcript:

Gerri Willis: Well, Kenneth Feinberg as you heard is in. But Mary Barra making it clear today that doesn’t mean money is going to be doled out. So should there be a compensation fund for GM victims? Many people talking about that tonight. Here to weigh in, Mark Modica, the National Legal and Policy Center, and Jack Burkman, a Republican strategist. Mark, I will start with you. So as I said they retained Ken Feinberg. As you know he has been critical, 9/11, BP, Boston marathon, doling out the dough. What does this tell you? Is this the right thing to do for GM right now? Mark, to you.

Mark Modica: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that was the direction this … Read More ➡

Power Steering Recall Could Cost GM Over $1.5 Billion

GM RecallAlmost two weeks after NLPC first requested that General Motors recall vehicles with defective power steering components, the company has agreed to the recall and finally remove the dangerous vehicles from the roads. Over 1.3 million Saturn Ions and related vehicles are included in the recall, bringing the total amount of GM vehicles recalled over the past month or so to over 6 million. The total cost to GM for the recalls will be in the billions of dollars with the latest recall probably accounting for over $1.5 billion on its own. The costs to GM’s reputation are even greater.

GM has known about the latest power steering defect since 2009. It appears that the issue revolves around a defective power steering assist motor supplied by JTEKT. GM sued that company back in 2009 and recalled Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s in March of 2010 which had the same … Read More ➡

GM Recalls 1.3 Million Vehicles With Steering Loss Defect

In apparent response to our request, General Motors announced today that it would recall 1.3 million vehicles that may experience sudden power steering loss.

We made the request on March 19 after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had already 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. In my March 19 letter to GM CEO Mary 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.”

The recall is even broader than we requested. We asked GM … Read More ➡

Congress Must Ask Barra Why GM Hasn’t Recalled Saturn Ions with Power Steering Loss

GM recallOn Friday, General Motors expanded its recall of vehicles with an ignition switch defect, but Saturn Ions with a dangerous steering loss problem remain unrecalled, even though Chevy Cobalts and other models with the exact same defect were previously recalled. The two Congressional Committees holding hearings this week must directly ask GM CEO Mary Barra why these dangerous vehicles remain on the road.

It has now been almost two weeks since we requested that Barra immediately order a recall of Saturn Ions (MY 2004 to 2007) with defective electric power steering systems. GM had previously recalled Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s in 2010 which had the same defective part (as reported here) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has had an ongoing investigation on the defect for years. The fact that the cost to repair the steering column on the defective vehicles is much higher than … Read More ➡

GM Response to Recall Delay Victims Anything BUT Compassionate

Barra photoMerriam-Webster.com defines compassion as, “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.” A Google search teaming the name Mary Barra with “compassionate” pulls up a host of articles fawning over General Motors’ new CEO’s handling of the company’s botched recalls which seem to have cost at least 12 American lives. Contrary to the media’s belief that GM is a compassionate entity working in the best interests of accident victims, the facts show that the response to defects in GM vehicles and subsequent recall delays has been anything BUT compassionate.

The NY Times continued its excellent investigative reporting on the GM recall delay story with an article describing how GM reacted to victims who tried to go up against the corporate giant after lives were lost in accidents involving defective GM vehicles. From that piece:

It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were

Read More ➡