Documents Reveal G.M. Knew Yet Fail to Act on Defects

As more documents were released last week revealing General Motors (G.M.) negligence for nearly a decade, it’s clear the manufacturer knew, yet failed to act on, several defects that put thousands of consumers at risk. 

According to the New York Times, documents, released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, show that G.M. CEO Mary Barra was first alerted to an issue with the Chevy Cobalt when she was vice president in 2011. This contradicts her statements that she first became aware of the issue this past December. 

The documents also reveal that G.M. engaged in correspondence with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in which the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) said that G.M. is “slow to communicate, slow to act, and, at times, requires additional effort of ODI that we do not feel is necessary with some of your peers.”

Reports also reveal that engineers knew of problems, yet rejected several opportunities to make fixes. It was a decision the manufacturer felt was too expensive. And when they did finally make the change, they failed to alert the public

This further lack of accountability from G.M. shows that neither regulation nor the market can succeed in protecting Americans alone. Rather, in order for our families to be safe, we must have a three-pronged approach to protection with corporations that act responsibly and prioritize safety, an effective, robust regulatory system, and access to the civil justice system.

People find it hard to believe that companies would cover up a product's danger. Yet, that is exactly what happened with G.M. 

G.M. knew of a faulty ignition switch, yet chose not to protect Americans.