The U.S. Congress has launched an investigation into General Motors to find out why faulty technology in its vehicles was used even after the company was aware of the problem.
The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Michigan Republican Fred Upton, has given General Motors until April 3 to explain what took the company so long to issue a recall on a very serious problem. (Via Kelley Blue Book)
"What you have here is an ignition switch that can go for various reasons from the on position to the off position meaning the car has no power steering, no power brakes and if it crashes the air bags do not go off." (Via CBS)
GM issued a recall Feb. 13 — then an expanded recall on Feb. 25 — of 1.6 million vehicles, which includes six different models built between 2003 and 2007 due to the ignition switch problem. GM also said the ignition problem caused or contributed to 13 deaths and 31 frontal crashes.
But a chronology report, also released by GM, shows this problem could have been taken care of nearly a decade ago, before the first faulty vehicle ever hit the road.
GM's North America President Alan Batey said in a statement: "The process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been. ... We are deeply sorry."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also launched an investigation into why GM didn't implement proposed fixes.
Mary Barra, who's been CEO of GM for a little less than two months, has promised complete cooperation with both investigations and an "unvarnished report" on what happened.
But GM is not alone on the chopping block. According to the The Wall Street Journal, the NHTSA may shoulder some of the blame as well.
"The NHTSA hasn't said why it didn't take action after one of its own officials pointed out the potential problem during a March 2007 meeting. NHTSA officials have declined to comment on the meeting."
The congressional committee will also be investigating why the NHTSA ignored consumer complaints about the GM vehicles. General Motors produced 9.7 million vehicles worldwide in 2013, bringing in approximately $3.8 billion in net income.