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Faulty ignition switch saved GM a dollar per car

By Joe Duarte     Apr 1, 2014 in Technology
Washington - That faulty ignition switch that may have led to 13 deaths and forced General Motors to recall millions of small cars reportedly saved the company just a dollar per potentially affected car back in 2005, says a Reuters report.
An internal GM document was revealed to a sub-committee of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce looking into why it took GM and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) such a long time to initiate a recall on 2.4 million vehicles, some of which date back to the 2005 model year.
Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy, who is chairing the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said “the red flags were there for GM and NHTSA to take action — but they didn’t.”
Murphy referenced an internal email at Delphi Automotive — the supplier of the ignition switch to GM — which asked for testing on the part, saying “Cobalt is blowing up in their face.”
Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette referred to another document that reportedly showed a $0.57 cost to fix the faulty ignition switch that allowed the ignition to key to slip to the off position, disabling the car’s electrics and resulting in airbags not deploying, and power assist not being available to help drivers steer and brake their vehicles.
The document was not released but Reuters claims to have obtained a string of emails from 2005 in which GM engineers debated making the change to the ignition switch at a cost of $0.90 per unit and one-time tooling costs of $400,000.
In the series of emails, a GM engineer reportedly affirmed the cars would continue using the switch from Delphi, despite the supplier’s telling GM in 2002 the switch did not meet GM’s performance specifications, until such time as the cost would be eliminated or reduced.
GM’s new CEO, Mary Barra, acknowledged the company was more focused on cost savings prior to its 2009 restructuring and has since changed its focus to safety and the consumer. In an exchanged, she said she found turning down safety changes due to cost “very disturbing” and added “that is not the way we do business in the new GM.”
The ignition recall now affects 2.4 million vehicles from model years 2003 through 2011. Among the affected models are the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Pontiac Pursuit/G5 and Solstice, and Saturn Ion and Sky.
More about General motors, Recalls, Ignition, Nhtsa
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