AirTalk for April 1, 2014

General Motors' CEO faces the wrath of Washington over recalls

GERMANY-GM-OPEL

DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images

Mary Barra, a new CEO of US carmaker General Motors GM addresses the media during a news conference at the headquarters of the company's German subsidiary Opel in Ruesselsheim, on January 27, 2014.

The CEO of General Motors is facing a tough day of questioning when she sits down in front of a House subcommittee hearing today into the company's recall of millions of small cars. The cars at the center of the recall had faulty ignition switches that could fail while the car is in motion - cutting off power to the airbags. The defect has been linked to 13 deaths.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight is looking into why the company took years to publicly acknowledge that there was a problem with the switches and initiate a recall.

GM allegedly knew about the faulty switches back in 2001 but did not make any changes to the part until 2006 - and never issued a recall or any kind of consumer warning.

According to the manufacturer, the replacement ignition switches cost about $2 to $5, raising more questions about why the company did not offer to replace the part earlier. In written testimony, Barra offered her apologies to the families of those killed in accidents and said she didn't know why GM didn't disclose the problem immediately but that she was committed to finding out.

Did GM commit a crime by failing to tell the public about the faulty switches? Why did the company not disclose the problem earlier? Does a recall this widespread make you think twice about the safety of your car?

Guests:

Joseph B. White, Global Auto Editor, Wall Street Journal-Detroit

Kenneth Elias, Partner with Maryann Keller & Associates, Global Auto Industry Advisory Services based in Scottsdale, AZ

Jack Gillis, Director of Public Affairs for the Consumer Federation of America

Ray LaHood, Former Secretary of Transportation


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