GM has dismissed 15 employees, including at least eight executives, after an internal investigation found “a pattern of incompetence and neglect” that led to 11 years of delays in recalling millions of cars for a fatal defect related to flawed ignition switches.
The investigation found that GM employees failed to recognize that cars shutting off posed a safety risk by disabling the airbags. They neglected to share information about complaints and crashes, treated problems as someone else’s responsibility to fix and ignored data showing evidence of a defect.
A 315-page report by former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas says GM categorized reports of cars stalling as a matter of customer “convenience” rather than one that could lead to crashes or deaths. The report says that a 2005 service bulletin sent to dealers was specifically worded to avoid attracting attention from federal safety regulators. GM lawyers agreed to settle a lawsuit in 2013 for $5 million, the maximum they were permitted without seeking approval from higher-ups.
GM’s CEO Barra called Valukas’ report “extremely thorough, brutally tough and deeply troubling.” She said engineers and others who learned of problems with ignition switches as early as 2003 “misdiagnosed the problem from the very beginning” and failed to treat it with the appropriate level of urgency.
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