General Motors Co is grappling with a crisis over its
decade-long 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 61 crashes and 16 deaths to switch-related 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 30, 2014 - GM recalls 8.23 million mostly older cars
linked by the automaker to three deaths. The latest recalls
swell the total number of vehicles recalled by GM this year to
29 million. The automaker also says it will increase by $500
million a second-quarter charge to cover the cost of the
recalls. So far this year, the writedowns are expected to total
$2.5 billion. It also announces details of a compensation fund
that will provide at least $1 million to victims of crashes tied
to defective switches in older compact cars.
June 18, 2014 - U.S. lawmakers accuse GM of a "disturbing
pattern" of neglecting safety and reveal emails from 2005 in
which a GM employee warned a "big recall" may be necessary over
an ignition-switch problem that was only addressed this week.
June 16, 2014 - GM recalls 3 million more cars for
ignition-switch issues, roughly doubling the number of GM
vehicles with known switch problems. GM also
raises a recall-related charge for the second quarter to $700
million from $400 million.
June 13, 2014 - GM recalls 511,528 Chevrolet Camaros for an
ignition switch problem similar to the defect linked to at least
13 deaths in Chevrolet Cobalts and other models.
June 6, 2014 - GM announces four more recalls, unrelated to
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.
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
May 16, 2014 - GM is slapped with a $35 million fine by the
U.S. Department of Transportation for its delayed response to
the ignition-switch defect.
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 Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra comes
under withering attack at a U.S. Senate hearing where lawmakers
accuse the company of "criminal" behavior and "a culture of
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)