(Adds details of Eller hiring, other background)
DETROIT, April 4 General Motors Co said
it has submitted most of the answers that U.S. safety regulators
sought from the automaker about a defective ignition switch
linked to at least 13 deaths.
In response to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, GM sent some 200,000 pages of documents to the
safety agency by a Thursday midnight deadline, GM spokesman Greg
Martin said on Friday. The company has provided answers to
nearly 65 percent of the 107 questions that the NHTSA asked, he
"GM is cooperating fully with NHTSA and is keeping the
agency apprised at every step of its progress as it works to
respond to the remaining questions within the special order,"
Martin said in an email.
NHTSA said in a statement it has been receiving documents
from GM and "will take appropriate action based on the agency's
review." The agency did not provide a timetable for making the
In addition to the NHTSA, the U.S. Senate and House of
Representatives are investigating why GM took more than a decade
to recall 2.6 million cars to replace the faulty switches. The
largest U.S. automaker also faces a criminal probe by the
Department of Justice.
Without warning, the switches can make vehicle engines stall
while operating, stop air bags from deploying, and power
steering and power brakes from operating.
GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra endured a withering
attack at a Senate hearing on Wednesday that opened with
accusations that the company fostered "a culture of cover-up."
Barra also faced a House panel on Tuesday.
Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles. And so
far this year, GM has recalled a total of nearly 7 million
vehicles, or about the same number recalled in the previous four
GM also confirmed the hiring of Jeff Eller, a crisis
management adviser, to help in its response to the recall. Eller
declined to comment, referring questions to GM.
Eller was chairman at Public Strategies Inc, which
represented Bridgestone Corp's Firestone during its
tire recall in 2000. He was also director of media affairs
during President Bill Clinton's administration.
"As we have from the start, we are drawing upon those who
have deep experience and expertise in these matters," GM's
Martin said. "Jeff will join a team who is helping us guide our
It is GM's third high-level outside hire since the defective
switches came to light.
On Tuesday, Barra said GM had hired attorney Kenneth
Feinberg to examine what steps the company might take for
families of crash victims. Barra said this week GM would take up
to 60 days to evaluate the matter.
Feinberg administered funds to compensate victims of the
Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the BP Plc oil spill, and
Boston Marathon bombing.
Safety advocates said the move indicated the company was
exploring setting up a victims' compensation fund, although GM
has not confirmed that.
GM has also hired former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas to lead
the company's internal probe of why it took so long to discover
the defective switches. Barra said this week that would wrap up
in 45 to 60 days.
Valukas was the court-appointed examiner in the Lehman
Brothers bankruptcy. His probe resulted in a report in 2010 that
detailed the causes of the firm's spectacular collapse.
The automaker has said it would take a charge of $750
million in the first quarter, mostly for the recalls announced
in that period, including ones linked to the defective ignition
switch. That was increased from $300 million.
On Thursday, GM said in documents filed with the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission it will also take a $400
million charge in the first quarter because of currency changes
Separately, Ford Motor Co said on Tuesday it would
take a first-quarter charge of $350 million to resolve currency
issues with its business in Venezuela.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall in Detroit;
Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)