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GM, federal regulators criticized in wake of safety recall

And GM itself states, through a statement issued by a senior executive, that the company response to a long-known engineering problem that has so far taken a number of lives in car accidents "was not as robust as it should have been."

Here's what is known concerning a true tragedy that is turning into a major public relations nightmare for General Motors.

In a chronology recently provided to federal regulators, GM admits that it knew of an ignition problem with Cobalts as early as 2004. Specifically, company officials knew that the cars could suddenly shut down while in motion owing to a faulty ignition switch or contact with rough terrain. That in turn could disable power brakes, air bags and the general electrical system.

In fact, it has subsequently, in a number of instances and with fatal results. Notwithstanding the deaths and what GM knew early on, though, the company failed to issue a safety recall until last month, which it subsequently expanded materially shortly thereafter in a second recall announcement. So far, nearly 1.4 million Cobalt and other GM models have been recalled for fixes.

That response is both late and inadequate, say many commentators who are sharply criticizing GM. They are also pointing fingers at NHTSA investigators, who they say did not follow through aggressively years ago when they were first made aware of the ignition problem.

Source: The New York Times, "In General Motors recalls, inaction and trail of fatal crashes," Christopher Jensen, March 2, 2014

And GM itself states, through a statement issued by a senior executive, that the company response to a long-known engineering problem that has so far taken a number of lives in car accidents "was not as robust as it should have been."

Here's what is known concerning a true tragedy that is turning into a major public relations nightmare for General Motors.

In a chronology recently provided to federal regulators, GM admits that it knew of an ignition problem with Cobalts as early as 2004. Specifically, company officials knew that the cars could suddenly shut down while in motion owing to a faulty ignition switch or contact with rough terrain. That in turn could disable power brakes, air bags and the general electrical system.

In fact, it has subsequently, in a number of instances and with fatal results. Notwithstanding the deaths and what GM knew early on, though, the company failed to issue a safety recall until last month, which it subsequently expanded materially shortly thereafter in a second recall announcement. So far, nearly 1.4 million Cobalt cars and other GM models have been recalled for fixes.

That response is both late and inadequate, say many commentators who are sharply criticizing GM. They are also pointing fingers at NHTSA investigators, who they say did not follow through aggressively years ago when they were first made aware of the ignition problem.

Source: The New York Times, "In General Motors recalls, inaction and trail of fatal crashes," Christopher Jensen, March 2, 2014

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