General Motors Co has been grappling with a crisis over
its 11-year failure to recall cars equipped with faulty ignition
switches. The flaw could cause engines to shut off, leading to a
sudden loss of power steering and power brakes, and the failure
of air bags to deploy in a crash. So far, GM has attributed at
least 54 crashes and 13 deaths to switch-related air bag
malfunctions. It was only in February of this year that GM
finally began recalling 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn
Ions and other older models equipped with the faulty switches.
Following is a timeline of recent events.
June 6, 2014 - GM announces four more recalls, unrelated to
ignition issues. The No. 1 U.S. automaker's 34 recalls so far
this year cover almost 13.9 million vehicles in the United
States, including the 2.6 million older cars with the faulty
June 5, 2014 - GM says it fired 15 people for misconduct and
failure to act on the recall of the defective ignition switches
for years after first gaining knowledge of the problem. GM also
releases findings of an internal probe, blaming what the report
described as incompetent lower-level employees and saying there
was no cover-up. The automaker also says it will create a
compensation fund for victims.
May 21, 2014 - GM says it is recalling more than 284,000
older Chevrolet small cars in the United States and other
markets because of a potential fire hazard, bringing U.S.
recalls at the automaker this year to 29 and almost 13.8 million
vehicles. This pushes the number of vehicles that GM has
recalled globally this year to more than 15.8 million.
May 20, 2014 - GM says it is doubling the charge it expects
to take in the second quarter to about $400 million, mostly for
recall-related repairs. In the first quarter, the company took a
charge of $1.3 billion, mostly related to the ignition-switch
May 16, 2014 - GM is slapped with a $35 million fine by the
U.S. Transportation Department for its delayed response to the
April 24, 2014 - GM says it is the subject of five different
government probes related to its massive recalls.
April 11, 2014 - Documents released by a U.S. House
committee show that GM engineers were aware of serious problems
with ignition switches in small cars, but rejected several
opportunities to make fixes. Federal regulators as early as 2007
were concerned that GM was dragging its heels on safety measures
as consumer complaints mounted, but top officials at the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration never followed
through on staffers' recommendations to open a broad
investigation, according to the documents.
April 2, 2014 - GM CEO Mary Barra comes under withering
attack at a U.S. Senate hearing where lawmakers accuse the
company of "criminal" behavior and "a culture of cover-up."
April 1, 2014 - Barra tells a U.S. House panel she is
"deeply sorry" for the company's failure to respond quickly.
March 18, 2014 - GM names Jeff Boyer to the new position of
vehicle safety chief, responsible for product safety issues
Feb. 25, 2014 - GM more than doubles its ignition-switch
recall, mostly in North America, to 1,620,665 vehicles.
Feb. 13, 2014 - GM says it is recalling 776,562 older-model
Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars in North America to
correct a condition that may allow the engine and other
components, including air bags, to be turned off
Jan. 15, 2014 - Barra, 52, takes over as chief executive,
becoming the first female to lead a major automaker.
The 33-year GM veteran previously headed, at
different times, the automaker's manufacturing engineering,
human resources and product development.
(Compiled by Matthew Lewis, Chicago newsroom; Editing by Ken