General Motors released a report Thursday on an internal investigation into the recall of 2.6 million older small cars for defective ignition switches. It took GM more than a decade to report the switch failures, which it blames for 13 deaths. The report found that a pattern of incompetence and neglect within GM was to blame for the delay in the recall.
“I can tell you the report is extremely thorough, brutally tough and deeply troubling. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to this company, it is enormously painful to have our shortcomings laid out so vividly. I was deeply saddened and disturbed as I read the report.”
“Let me be clear: This should never have happened. It is unacceptable.”
“Repeatedly, individuals failed to disclose critical pieces of information that could have fundamentally changed the lives of those impacted by a faulty ignition switch. If this information had been disclosed, I believe in my heart the company would have dealt with this matter appropriately.”
—GM CEO Mary Barra
“As a whole, from beginning to end, the story of the Cobalt is one of numerous failures leading to tragic results for many.”
— From the introduction to the investigative report by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas.
“It’s not comforting, but it’s nice to know that has happened, the tragedy — these young girls losing their lives has caused the company and a big corporation like GM to … take a look at themselves and realize that we just weren’t doing things the right way.”
—Ken Rimer, stepfather of Natasha Weigel, one of two people killed in a 2006 crash in Wisconsin involving a Chevrolet Cobalt.
The new report validates the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s own investigation that “showed at all levels of the organization, GM’s decision-making, structure, process and corporate culture stood in the way of safety at a time when air bags were failing to work properly in millions of GM products.”
“The initial findings are deeply disturbing, suggesting that communications and management failures ran deep and wide within GM. The failure to identify red flags and conduct a recall sooner cost lives.”
—Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, whose oversight subcommittee has been investigating the GM recall
“I won’t be letting GM leadership, or federal regulators, escape accountability for these tragedies.”
—Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chair of the Senate Commerce Committee’s consumer protection subcommittee, which also has investigated the recall
“They were fired. What? Do you want to put them in jail now? I mean, I don’t know. Let’s have some hearings and determine if they did anything that was illegal before we start throwing them in jail.”
—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., responding to a reporter who asked whether he believes the Justice Department should bring criminal charges against the 15 GM employees who were forced out for their role in the ignition switch scandal
“We are comfortable with our $2.5 billion legal cost estimate given the establishment of a victim compensation fund to directly pay for injuries/deaths and the likelihood that GM will use the bankruptcy shield to defend against the more spurious ‘economic loss’ class action suits.”
— Analysts at Barclays, in a research note to clients.