By on May 9, 2014


(Note: header image changed based on whim of E-I-C pro tem, some will understand why — JB)

Detroit Free Press reports former General Motors vice president of communications Steve Harris has been called out of retirement to help guide his former employer through the fallout of the February 2014 ignition recall crisis “for a limited time.” According to spokesman Greg Martin, Harris’ “deep background with GM and proven experience” will be of great benefit to the company. His second return the company — the first in 2006 at the request of then-CEO Rick Wagoner after leaving in 2003 — comes on the heels of successor Selim Bingol’s resignation in April of this year.

Regarding the switch itself, Autoblog reports testing of the recommended temporary fix — using the key with nothing attached — conducted by both the automaker and the U.S. Department of Transportation have shown the cars can be driven safely as-is. In addition, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx responded to the call by Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to order GM to pull the 2.6 million affected vehicles off the road until they are repaired, stating that “such an action is not necessary at this time,” and that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “is satisfied” with the temporary solution proposed by GM.

In lawsuit news, Automotive News reports the automaker is seeking shelter from a group of customers seeking information on its handling of the ongoing recall in a federal court in Texas. The judge reviewing the 60 suits against the company has stated he would consider such requests from the plaintiffs while deciding if their demands are lawful, while GM says such evidence should be “scheduled in a coordinated fashion” after consolidation of all suits pending.

Finally, GM, its dealers, and its customer base may have to traverse a long, hard road out of hell before everything settles down around the main recall and subsequent recalls that have come over the past few months. Detroit Free Press says the automaker will need 9 million parts from its suppliers — from new ignitions to power steering motors — and several months to repair all affected vehicles dropped off at its 4,300-strong dealership network. The wait alone for parts to arrive may take as much as four weeks to arrive for some dealers, as Delphi and other suppliers are ramping up production to meet demand.

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20 Comments on “Former GM PR Exec Steve Harris Returns Under Ignition Recall Fallout...”

  • avatar

    I knew it was that damned Selim Bingol who was the problem. Cobalts don’t kill people, extra keys kill people.

  • avatar

    Steve Harris: The Sequel Part II

    It’s good to be wanted.

    • 0 avatar

      Whatever GM’s product problems are and have been for some time, Harris was a damn good communications pro. Hopefully will be again. To their credit, Mary & Co. realize they need all the help they can get.

      • 0 avatar

        At least he’s still around for this episode of obfuscation, misdirecftion, misinformation and “death on the roads.” Who are they gonna call 5, 10 years from now when they have another crisis on their hands?

        Does make me wonder what GM knows today about their current crop of products that will result in recalls 5, 10 years from now after people have been killed and the feds start looking into it, like they did this time, and the time before, and the time before that….

  • avatar

    Wow! Can GM not find a P.R dude from the thousands of talented people out there? So now the plan is to bring back this old guy?

    These old school GM guys led by Rick W are the same people that managed to turn a multi million dollar company, into welfare bums.

    These old boys, should be put out to pasture, with their guaranteed pensions, and left there.

  • avatar

    You’re probably right Mikey, but Harris is good at what he does, he knows where the skeletons are and has the least learning curve. They need all the help they can, TODAY, and Harris could be an excellent bridge until the next inevitable management rout. I personally think Barra is toast.

    • 0 avatar

      @ bomberpete…I guess I might of been a bit too quick to judge the guy. I never met the dude, or even heard of him. Maybe I guy with his smarts might just be what we need.

      I got 36 years of my life invested at GM. I fear for my “non guaranteed” pension.

      GM has vastly improved their product. As an employee, I’ve owned, and driven countless GM products over the years. I can say without hesitation, that my 2014 Impala LT is the nicest car I have ever owned.

      That being said, GM’s biggest issue right now is P.R. GM is in the news everyday. I never see anything positive from the media.

      Maybe this old boy is what we need. Your right “bomberpete”. Because right now,TODAY. “Communication” is the key word.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks Mikey. GM’s PR problem is driven by product problems and lying. A good PR team can’t make this mess go away — they can only manage it better than Bingol did.

        I’d even wager that GM right now cannot attract the top crisis communications pros outside of the car companies at any price. It’s thankless work ahead, the kind that can destroy reputations. The burnout factor is tremendous, and it will hit the fan every day. I suspect Harris figures a year or two of righting the ship somewhat and he’s out.

  • avatar

    GM could have fixed this problem years ago by removing the hole in the key. Yikes. I should have been a GM engineer.

  • avatar

    Time for GM to run to the hills?

  • avatar

    Wasted years indeed…

  • avatar

    Huh. So you mean the ancient advice of not having two pounds of crap hanging off of your car key because it can wear out the ignition switch prematurely is true?*

    Who’d a thunk it!

    *I get that isn’t the exact problem here, but the symptoms and the disease are very similar


    I also had an interesting phone conversation with an Arizona based rep of USAA. The fiance and I are closing on our house next week and I was getting our insurance binder for closing. In talking to her and she asked the name of the mortgage company I said, “Cobalt, like the self destructing Chevrolet.”

    She told me how her best friend’s family is one of the leading plaintiffs in the lawsuit against GM because one of her best friends died in the Cobalt. Then she added – she intentionally drove her car into a tree and died in the accident.

    Ya I know – one of those, “ya right stories,” but if I’m lying I’m dying.

    Reference Repo Man and “Plate O’ Shrimp” conversation.

  • avatar
    Chris FOM

    Scream for me TTAC!

  • avatar

    For an alarming minute there I thought the E-I-C p.t. had shaved his face-fungus and joined the rhythm section. A careful examination of comparative features revealed that this was mistaken and all remains well with the world.

    • 0 avatar

      Lol, at first glance I thought it was Jeremy Clarkson, then I thought maybe it should be

      • 0 avatar

        Though it is true that is indeed neither Jack nor Jeremy, did you know that Mr. Clarkson in his youth fronted a group called Blancmange? Have a look on YouTube sometime at the group’s video for their 1982 hot jam entitled “Living On The Ceiling,” where Clarkson runs around Cairo singing about the things that are alright with him. ;)

  • avatar

    Mr. Harris’s first meeting after retiring and going fishing, then returning…

    “Well, our first step is to first, spend as little money as possible resolving the issue. Second, we tell NO ONE, using our PR staff to cover up the issue.”

    “We already tried that, and failed. Everyone knows and now we have to fix the issue.”

    “And why did you bring me back???”

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