Did General Motors (GM) make the right decisions in a timely manner, to tackle the scandal of failure of the ignition switch that equipped millions of vehicles? This is the question that arises after the discovery that the first US manufacturer had ordered discreetly 500,000 replacement parts to the supplier Delphi, two months before it began to recall defective vehicles, as indicated by emails revealed on Sunday, November 9, in the Wall Street Journal.
The default switch, which under certain circumstances prevented the airbags from deploy, killed at least 30 people. GM has made the subject of a judicial investigation under fire for its handling of the problem, although it had been reported internally in 2003.
On December 17, 2013, a summit meeting had discussed the default on the Chevrolet Cobalt. The group then had made no decision to recall the vehicles concerned. The first recall was scheduled to take place on February 7, 2014. However, according to these emails, the day after the meeting, the group placed a large “urgent” order for switch replacement.
A show of transparency
This new element of the investigation causes trouble on the defense strategy adopted so far by GM, which had never spoken of this order. According to a spokesman, the manufacturer believes it has provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the authority of road safety in the United States, correct chronology of events, and felt it was not necessary to disclose the details of this order.
However, the new boss of GM, Mary Barra, said since the beginning of the scandal will play the card of transparency. The group has appealed to former US Attorney Anton Valukas to ask him to shed light on the chain of responsibility that led GM to ignore failure for nearly a decade despite numerous warnings launched by several employees of the group. Or, at any time, despite the 230 accounts and 41 million documents together, the survey, published in May 2014, does not mention this order of 500,000 switches.
Yet its existence seems essential to understand the responsiveness of GM. Why wait nearly two months to make the first vehicle recall? How many accidents have occurred during this time? These are the questions that come to add to the already heavy for General Motors case. A trial is scheduled for January 2016.