Barra: "Nobody Took Responsibility" For Defective Ignition Switch

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
barra nobody took responsibility for defective ignition switch

Automotive News reports General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivered a 15-minute blistering speech before those in attendance and online regarding the Valukas report, which detailed the how and why a defective ignition switch first brought to life in 2001 led to the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles so equipped and the firestorm that followed. In her words, “nobody took responsibility” for the problems, that “there was no demonstrated sense of urgency” during the time period to fix the problems that still haunt the automaker. Barra added that she would never put the recall crisis behind GM, to “keep this painful experience” permanently upon the head of the corporation so as nothing like this would ever occur once more. At the end, she proclaimed her belief in GM and its employees in being able to face “the truth” about itself, and that the General overall was better than its previous actions.

After Barra dropped the mic, the automaker announced 15 individuals with ties to the ignition switch recall were fired. Of those no longer employed, seven have been identified thus far:

  • Ray DeGiorgio: Engineer
  • Mike Robinson: Vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs
  • Gay Kent: General director of vehicle safety
  • Carmen Benavides: Director of field product investigations
  • William Kemp: Senior lawyer, safety
  • Gary Altman: Program engineering manager
  • Lawrence Buonomo: Senior lawyer, product liability

The remaining eight have yet to be named as of this writing.

Over in the Beltway, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce and U.S. Senate Commerce committees have called Barra and Anton Valukas for the second round of testimonies the former promised would occur once the independent investigation led by Valukas released its findings to the public. Representative Fred Upton of Michigan and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, both chairs of their respective committees, both noted it would take time to go over the report before drawing their conclusions. McCaskill warned that she would not allow “GM leadership, or federal regulators, escape accountability” over the recall and the 47 accidents — including 13 fatalities thus far — linked to it.

Finally, Barra warned the recall parade that began in February would likely continue “in the near term,” abating “to historical levels, or slightly higher” as claimed by CFO Chuck Stevens in the conference call with analysts following Barra’s speech. She also promised that GM’s recall efforts would become “the new norm” for the automaker as it follows the CEO’s focus on customer safety.

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  • Old Man Pants Old Man Pants on Jun 06, 2014

    Who could hate a woman with bangs? Anyone who thinks this will result in a sea change at GM should reflect upon the massive public support the US military now has (at least among those who get polled) as compared to the '70s. This scandal will be forgotten, the VA scandal will too.

    • See 3 previous
    • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jun 06, 2014

      @Kenmore - Who could hate a woman with bangs? or did you mean to say "a woman that bangs"?

  • RogerB34 RogerB34 on Jun 06, 2014

    Nobody took responsibility is a mild disease in the private sector. Had GM gone bankrupt, the new company would have been organized more efficiently. Nobody took responsibility is inherent in Government and cannot be fixed.

    • See 1 previous
    • CapVandal CapVandal on Jun 07, 2014

      wmba .... +1 Amazing how many people don't know that simple fact. Even on TTAC. It has occurred to me that GM would have been well served to simply change its name post bankruptcy. The brand names of their individual makes (Buick, &c) have value, but GM? Not so much. A great way to put 'Old GM' behind them.

  • Stuart de Baker I didn't bother to read this article. I'll wait until a definitive headline comes out, and I'll be surprised if Tesla actually produces the Cybertruck. It certainly looks impractical for both snowy and hot sunny weather.
  • Stuart de Baker This is very interesting information. I was in no danger of buying a Tesla. I love my '08 Civic (stick), and it feels just as responsive as when I bought it 11 years ago with 35k on the clock (now 151k), and barring mishaps, I plan to keep it for the next 25 years or so, which would put me into my mid-90s, assuming I live that long. On your information, I will avoid renting Teslas.
  • RHD The only people who would buy this would be those convinced by a website that they are great, and order one sight-unseen. They would have to have be completely out of touch with every form of media for the last year. There might actually be a few of these people, but not very many. They would also have to be completely ignorant of the Hyundai Excel. (Vinfast seems to make the original Excel look like a Camry in comparison.)
  • RHD This was awesome, in 1978. Now, it's very much obsolete - thirsty, slow, ponderous, noisy, rough, and dated design even in its time. Still, someone who wants to recreate some distant memories will buy it and restore it and enjoy it, and the seller just has to find that particular individual.
  • BEPLA Cybertruck may have made some kind of weird sense had it been brought on market on time, ie: before Rivian and F150 Lightning.But the market has progressed.If this were any normal company it would be ditched for a more competitive product.But in Elon's narcissistic dreamworld - well, we'll just see how it flops.