G.M. Secrecy on Crashes Adds to Families’ Pain

Relatives of people killed in accidents involving recalled General Motors cars find it hard to get information partly because of how G.M. defines victims, and the technology of “black boxes.”

Comments: 85

  1. There is nothing GM can do at this point to correct their negligence, and the corporate veil shields them from prosecution for their wanton disregard of public safety, to say nothing of GM's image as a trustworthy company. The only recourse at this point is to send a strong signal to GM's board of directors and stockholders by not purchasing their products, and I'm a bit cynical about the average American's ability to care enough about the issue to do even that.

  2. Dozens of lawsuits brought against GM in the past couple of weeks, along with settlements that GM has already paid out, suggest that private lawyers across the country and GM lawyers all disagree with your view that the corporation can't be sued.

  3. I share your cynicism about American consumers not buying GM products. That will never happen, people only care enough to post a few lines on Facebook so their friends can see how PC and sensitive they are, but I don't believe the burden should be on the consumer to punish these corporate fat-cats for their criminal negligence.

    Our system is broken. That's the real story. Money is everything in this country. It can cure AIDS and keep mass murderers out of jail and in their swanky high-rise offices making cheap inferior products to sell to the poor huddled masses. Where is the justice?

  4. Also, corporations can be charged criminally. Arthur Andersen, the largest hedge fund out there (SAC), and BP are just a few examples. If GM isn't indicted here, THAT would be a crime.

  5. Exactly. GM didn't care they created a cheap faulty ignition switch. And didn't correct it. Just didn't care. Buy their car. Any problem is your problem. When you get a good lawyer, then they kind of care. So all of this is real interesting to hear how they "care" "now". It is lawyer time. And the guys who created that switch? Hmmmm...why say more.

  6. GM should be run through the wringer for the obvious neglect of "doing the right thing" for the last 10, maybe even up to 14 years. My heart cries out for the families. But still, there's been at least two situations that I have read about where speed and alcohol were involved, maybe seat belts were not fastened, and it leaves one wondering if there's not a bit of a lesson about personal responsibility here. We all should know that corporations are only as responsible as regulations force them to be. This is no secret, and GM obviously didn't even live up to some of those. But as long as individuals choose to drink and drive, text and drive, just plain be distracted and drive, it is going to give the corporations an avenue for squirming out of tight situations.

  7. But picking endlessly on this one C E O who just started the job seems highly unproductive. What about the parties to the actual ignition switch situation ?

  8. the right thing for these people are profits

  9. Ms. Barra is the GM CEO getting paid $14.4M per year. How can she not know what happened? Doesn't she have any subordinates? How long does it take for information to "float" to the top of the organization - 10 years?

  10. Fine GM about $30 billion.

  11. Fine the NHTSA about $60 billion. They are as inept or corrupt than NASA launching two shuttles with known defects.

  12. tomjoe9 - I wonder if this GM snafu will become a case study, like the Challenger disaster, of how organizational decision making can fail.

  13. No they must be liquidated. Anyone who buys a GM car is enabling a criminal enterprise.

  14. I am very surprised your are calling GM "General Motors"! As well all know, GM = Government Motors. What was once a great American company, a standard bearer of free enterprise, is now just another shill for what has become a third world country under the domination of the 1% and all their political cronies and the greatest enemy of freedom: lobbyists.

    America is nothing more than the economic suppression of the masses. Institutionalized by corporations and our totally corrupt elitist government.

  15. A ninety cents repair is what GM not worth doing , why care about saving lives when they feel it's cheaper to settle than fix , disgusting mindset.
    Until jail time is give to these heartless greedy & evil executives nothing will change. Don't worry they are ok the phony BK GM did recently lets them off the hook on liabilities from the past. I will never buy a GM product ever again.

  16. Barra will have to provide convincing evidence that from this point forward, the plaintiffs are being fairly handled and that there are on obstructions in discovery procedures. Any thing less will not do.

  17. Perhaps what is needed is some kind of specialized “Products Liability Courts” in which the judges have both legal and technical training, and where the burden of proof rests on the CORPORATIONS to prove that a particular accident was NOT caused by their malfeasance or nonfeasance. Yes, such a burden goes against the ideal of “innocent until proven guilty” but “the law” merely is a cultural construct, and I wonder just how much corporate-sponsored obfuscation and death our society willing to tolerate before the people scream “Enough!”

  18. Are people really shocked by this coverup? Really?...The foxes have been guarding the chicken coop since Plymouth Rock.When the only thing that matters to a corporation are profits, should anyone be surprised with all these machinations? And to call out GM as though they have done anything other than what all corporations have done is either naive or hypocritical.And for those prima donnas in Congress with the holier-than-thou stuff....that just takes the cake.These businesses have be exempted from accountability by the courts and the lawmakers.We all have been asleep at the wheel too long.Wake up!

  19. Not sure if Congress has the legal authority to compel GM to disclose all the data it has received about accidents or crashes in the recalled models and put it on a public web site, but that's a first step. Part of how they've avoided dealing with this is sealed settlements and telling each new complainant that they've not had any pattern of problems.

    They don't want to deal with the public consequences of everyone being able to see their defects and problems, but I can't think of anything else that would turn around this culture that could stay silent for a decade while people died as a result of a defect the new about.

    I don't own a GM car and based on this showing of their attitude towards their customers' lives, I can't imagine buying one.

  20. Mary Barra was there all that time in a senior position so she was part of the problem. Now she is the chief executive. She should resign and her replacement should be from outside that company.

  21. Too bad we the public bailed these folks out.
    And too bad we failed to put (former) Rep. Barney Frank on the Board Of Directors as he wanted. He is a good Democrat who really cares about people and these tragedies would have never happened.

  22. My mother had this exact problem with her Alero.I drove it along with my brother and daughter,we all experienced the same problem.Why is the Alero not on the list ???The trouble seems to be that when we left it with the dealer we gave him only the car key,not all the other keys for house etc.So the dealer could not repeat the cut out !Did they know about the Alero as well ?

  23. I want to know WHY Congress is not questioning the GM executives who were in charge at the time the safety problems were being withheld from the public and people were dying?

  24. It's more fun for them to badger a woman.

  25. That's great, Heather. You've astutely identified sexism in a story involving the female CEO of one of the largest corporations in America.

  26. It is perhaps indicative of the general level of competence at GM that the attorney given the task of writing a public response uses "incidences" rather than the proper"incidents" to describe specific events.

  27. incidence (plural incidences)
    1. The act of something happening; occurrence

    incident (plural incidents)
    1. An event or occurrence.

  28. Are there any reports of cars switching into the accessory position without there being a fatality?

    Yes, engines turning off is VERY dangerous: power steering and power brakes suddenly turn off. But it should not always result in a fatal accident. I'm surprised I'm not hearing 'Yes! this happened to me!' stories.

    If so, were these incidents reported to dealers? And did these get back to the manufacturer?

  29. Not quite so: power steering assist would turn off, but steering control is still there with a bit higher effort. As for power brakes, in most cases at least one full stop's worth of energy would be stored in the actuator regardless of key position; it's a stored-vacuum system.

  30. I read in the NYT that GM had issued a service bulletin on just this problem and told dealers to replace ignition switches in customers' cars but only if they complained that the car cut off. So they did know and had reports from customers. Too, they changed the design of the switch but without issuing a new part number. Again an indication they knew of the problem. Nevertheless they failed to initiate a recall and permitted customers to ride around with faulty switches unbeknown to them.

  31. Yes. The fact that the part number is the same (not even a rev level change? really?) is the scariest part of the situation.

    I've spent enough time doing engineering. We had to make a rev level change for the same exact part every time there was a change in the design paperwork. If this is really the case, then this goes from sloppiness to deliberately hiding.

    Losing power steering without warning is dangerous. If someone is not expecting it, the sudden extra effort could cause panic. Not to mention that many people drive one-handed and may not have the strength to straighten wheels quickly with one hand.

  32. No more GM cars for me or any companies of mine. More liars, cheats and thieves. Condolences to those that lost loved ones to a corrupt company. Sorry too, for the taxpayer bailout. The company should have been left at the side of the road for a full cleansing.

  33. The anger at G.M is only the tip of the iceberg of a nation that has systematically betrayed the trust of the people who had faith in the American commitment to doing what was right in a world when everybody was saying we were wrong. Paul Ryan wants us to take his Budget on "Faith," G.M. probably thought Pollyanna was the CEO the CEO and wouldn't let the American people down. Our waters are poison, the traffic jams on the GW Bridge are engineered by vindictive henchmen of a renegade bully turned governor - no wonder religion, the greatest hoax of all time, has become the most popular and lucrative escape from the dishonest culture that has most of us very confused, angry, and ready to do something, if we only knew what? Gee, we can't even trust new cars anymore. America was once the country on wheels- so much so, that we were seen as the only nation where we'd drive ourselves to the poorhouse. Now, it seems, we can count our blessings if the EMS gets us there in time, after the car just stops working, in mid highway, rounding a bend, or braking for the toll plaza. We thought we were doing the right thing and it turns out we were just losing our lives in an other scam by G.M. When will American corporations stop the terrorist war against the American consumer, is what I want to know. Is there no longer any profit in cooperation, community, and the Golden Rule? Has Fair-Play gone the way of Mr. Chips?

  34. Don't expect anything meaningful to come out of these hearings. It's just another clown show with inept corporate leaders and politicians. GM knew for years about the problems and the politicians who they own, did not do their jobs with proper oversight. They are both to blame. One has to be a fool to buy a GM product. They've been making garbage for decades.

  35. Cars are extremely complex machines and engineering mistakes happen. Bridges fail, rockets explode.

    However, the decision NOT to correct a potentially life-threatening defect once it has been diagnosed is a deliberate decision made by one or a series of human beings without regard to the harm of customers - who at the very least should be informed of the potential danger.

    The failure of government watchdogs is even worse. Not unlike the SEC when confronted with clear wrongdoing by Bernie Madoff.

    One need not be anti-business to be pro-truth.

  36. "Mr. Backus had been drinking, and he had been speeding, according to the police report and data from his car.....Now, they [his parents] wonder whether their son’s accident could be G.M.'s fault."

    Personal responsibility is well and truly dead in America.

  37. The accident sounds unquestionably the fault of the driver. The question is whether the death was preventable. The article wording should reflect this.

  38. How about the responsibility of GM to design an ignition switch that can take more than the weight of a single key? "If you only use the key or a single key on a key ring, the cars are safe to drive", says the CEO. So by definition, if there is anything else on the key ring, the car is not safe to drive. Who is currently, or who will eventually, take personal responsibilty for that design?

  39. Reading these comments, I am not sure GM picked the right strategy. Toyota showed that the key in scandal where dozens of lives have been lost is to deny, deny, and deny...circle the corporate wagons and quietly settle financially. You will find no Toyota internal reports available on the internet or independent investigators anywhere near their headquarters. This is still very much an experiment by Barro that you meet the parents of every litigant (regardless of the validity of their case--such as the drunk teenager who rammed a tree) and open the company to a private detective to determine fault. I wish her well.

  40. How easy we forget that this debacle came from "Old" GM that was headed for bankruptcy which had to go to the government on their knees because there was no one else with 38-40billion$$ in their briefcases to lend.
    Since the new GM, the company has produced many excellent cars. Of course, what happened is not acceptable and I imagine many of those who were at the helms from 200 to 2009 are not there any more.
    Why is it, we cannot wait for an investigation to do its work? Maybe CSI has led us to believe it can all be settled in 45min! Actually, in Ohio, it takes 4 to 6 weeks to get accurate DNA tests run...

  41. Wouldn't have been better for the old GM to go out of business given than it made dangerous and junky cars.

  42. If this were as cut and dried a situation as plaintiff's attorneys would paint it, no executive would have resisted a fix. The fact is that many of the crashes were not survivable even if airbags had deployed, which may be one factor in NHTSA's declining to go into fast action.

    It is every engineer's nightmare to have designed a faulty bridge or component, This is a case where the unknown consequences of a failure far outweigh the evident consequences,

  43. The current CEO should not be questioned. The real interrogation should be of the former regime of incompetent, greedy CEO & his team. Guess he's probably in the Swiss Alps somewhere enjoying retirement while the woman takes the heat.

  44. The current CEO is in charge of cleaning up this whole mess and is being paid about $15 million this year to do it. I think an hour or so of grilling and keeping her inside the room to hear testimony of victims' families was time well spent.

  45. Over 30 years ago, my father purchased a Buick Century. The car ran poorly from day one. Frequently stalling, loss of power, rough idling. Repeated visits to the dealer did nothing. They treated my dad like he was a nutcase and insisted nothing was wrong. They stonewalled and resisted buying back the car under the Lemon Law. We finally brought the vehicle to an independent mechanic who discovered that one of the six piston rods in the engine was too short because it was actually a rod made for a GM V8 engine. They still refused to buy the car back and gave him a 'short block' replacement, i.e. they rebuilt the engine with the (presumably) proper part(s).
    No one in my family bought another GM product.
    apparently little has changed in the quality and culture at GM. They don't deserve our support. The US auto industry is not known around the world for quality and with good reason.

  46. I have no use for GM. I actually did take them to arbitration and their representatives sat across from me and told me straight-faced that they had no record of problems with my car hesitating and surging, although a kind dealer service rep had let me know GM had issued a service bulletin for just this problem. I had the car at the dealer for over 30 days in the first 90 I owned it. I won the arbitration based on the number of days it had been in the shop. Then GM would not act on the arbitration finding until I let them know I had spoken to a journalist who had written about lemon laws and that he was ready to publish my experience. Miraculously, I heard from GM telling me to bring the car into the GMAC office in the next few hours and take the check they had just cut...

    Never, ever will I buy another GM product, not only based on quality but mostly based on their lack of integrity.

  47. Our Buick Century would run without the ignition key fwiw.

  48. The families who lost loved ones also paid taxes that bailed GM out.

  49. It challenges credulity to think that the current CEO knew nothing of standard company practices. Barra has been working for GM since 1980. Are we expected to believe that she knew nothing of the company's preference for cutting costs over saving human lives? Should we swallow the idea that the company culture was not well understood by someone who has held these positions: Vice President, Global Human Resources; Vice President, Global Manufacturing Engineering; Plant Manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly; Executive Director of Competitive Operations Engineering; and several engineering and staff positions. (I'm quoting her company biography here.)

    To hear her say that she doesn't know how all this happened is sickening. GM indulged in the common corporate psychosis in which lack of morality is elevated as an art. The madness continues until someone gets caught, at which point a magical conversion takes place. Now we observe the law. Now we care.

    Yeah right.

    Meanwhile, Barra isn't the only one responsible for what happened. One wonders whether executive pay at GM is enough to compensate her for holding the bag.

  50. I hate that 13 people lost their lives over a 10 year period, but come on, it's just 1.3 deaths a year in a country of over 320 million.

    If they fixed every defect on every car a Cobalt would cost over $100K.

    A lot more people die in their bathtubs.

  51. In a weird that's very true! But they should own up n announce the change!

  52. It has to do with willful negligence and fraud. It has to do with corporations that value profit over life. just because there are other situations that are worse doesn't mean this doesn't matter.

  53. People die in their bathtubs, but not because of design flaws in the bathtub.

    And as far as the cost goes, GM had a $7.5 BILLION operating profit in North America last year. In 2012, before she was named CEO, Barra was paid $4.9 million in compensation ($750,000 in salary). Are you honestly telling me that a company has the money to pay one of their many VPs three quarters of a million dollars, but can't afford $100k to repair their faulty work? Seriously?

  54. What another egregious example of a sick and value-less corporate culture and another sign of rampant self-absorbed greed in a capitalist system gone completely array. And GM will "consider" paying damages? Who in their right mind will ever purchase a GM car, ever again??

  55. In this era of extreme competition, safety measures are given a bypass most of the time. ''Cutting costs'' and keeping secrecy at the cost of human lives is unpardonable and so is ''drunk driving'' and then blaming the manufacturer for all fatal crashes.

  56. The primary life saving device is the seat belt. Were these people wearing a seat belt? Your article does not say.

    If we are really concerned about saving lives we would reduce the speed limits. During the gas crisis highway deaths were substantially reduced but when the gas came back the limits went right back up along with highway deaths. We could probably save 100 lives a week but we want to go fast.

  57. That first paragraph hits it out of the park. The Old GM is well documented in Unsafe At Any Speed by Ralph Nader, published in 1966(!). The same calculation that the death toll settlements are cheaper than changing a defective part is documented in meeting transcripts. Today's hearing made clear that the Old GM is still alive, and that many people are dead as a result.

  58. Ralph Nader's book was about the Corvair model. The other mid-sixties GM cars were good. Chevy Chevelle, Buick Special/Skylark, Pontiac Lemans, etc. Very nice!

  59. GM's behavior is indefensible. Their callous disregard for consequences when it interferes with the bottom line was also reflected in their treatment of Saab, a superior innovative carmaker they acquired, gutted and then made double sure to destroy.

  60. Nothing surprises me about GM since they acquired, gutted and made double sure to destroy Saab. Just a different, but equally effective way to destroy countless lives.

  61. While I absolutely agree that a safety investigation is in order, I find it puzzling that we spend so much time and effort on protecting people in cars (and correctly so), but have no problem getting rid of motorcycle helmet laws or gun-control laws, arguably decisions that have also cause many fatalities in this country. it's a pity that we only have the desire to regulate motor vehicle safety.

  62. Isn't it convenient that this's scandal was revealed after the Government's bailout funds have been repaid?

  63. They weren't all repaid. Taxpayers lost $10 billion on GM.

  64. The unions and their gold plated retirement benefits however despite my $10,000,000,000 loss as a taxpayer. Thx Obama

  65. Former GM CEO Ackerson knew exactly when to take a hike and the board knew just who to pick as their sacrificial lamb: A woman. Mary Barra.

    Nice going, boys.

  66. Ms. Barra told the Committee that she wasn't aware of the issue until late January 2014, after she was appointed CEO. It is uncomfortably curious to me that an executive wouldn't have known about this far earlier (even before being appointed CEO).

    Also, why was she made aware of this issue until after she was appointed?

    It seems the BOD failed dramatically in providing oversight of the firm during the entire duration of the debacle. Every single individual on the BOD should be fired for this malfeasance! Either for ignorance (doubtful) or inaction.

    Where was the Risk Management Program in all of this? Did/does it even exist?

    Did the executives set aside specific monies for use in paying claims that would be expected to arise? Wouldn't /shouldn't those monies show up on the balance sheet?

    - If not, then it seems to me that the company was derelict in its duties to the shareholders by not informing them.

    - If so, then why didn't the Committee ask about it and why weren't more executives aware of the issue...that is, ...assuming the Ms. Barra told the truth to the Committee....

    ...and my compass is straining to believe her.

    That old legal adage comes to mind - first deny, then delay, and lastly, defend.

  67. A disgrace for GM and our "regulatory" agencies.
    If there is no jail time for the GM executives then this will continue to happen.
    Fraud and negligence that cause this many deaths needs to be punished with incarceration. Anything less is a green light for other greedy companies.
    Will never buy a GM.

  68. All this happened before the bailout and before current management took control. I hope people get comensated but we have to remember who caused the problems and whose administration was in office between 2001 and 2008.

  69. The company's culture hasn't changed much since they were trailing consumer advocate Ralph Nader in the 1960s. Nader wrote the book "Unsafe At Any Speed" and the key vehicle of his focus was GM's Chevrolet Corvair. GM tried to discredit Nader by hiring private detectives to tap his phone, investigate his past, and use prostitutes to trap him in compromising situations. If it were not for Nader and the changes that followed his advocacy of automobile safety this current issue might never have come to light.

  70. I have no legal training, but if corporations have now been defined as equivalent to individual people, mustn't this new type of citizen be treated by our criminal and civil justice systems the same as other American citizens have been and are treated now? If not, does that mean our Supreme Court has provided unfair treatment to corporations over actual individual people aka human beings ?

  71. There needs to be a GM response to the tragedies but the clown shows that Congress put on by pretending they are on the High Road when the American public rates them as fools at best and criminals at worse is so disheartening. Fix your own house Congress.

  72. Is no one struck by the irony implicit in a group of Congressmen excoriating Barra for corporate incompetence and possible malfeasance when Congress is as corrupt and venal as it's ever been?

    Having gleefully sent our troops into the Middle East where they suffered nearly 60,000 dead and wounded (and then trying to cut military benefits), Congress is tearing apart Barra like a pack of jackals.

    It's one thing to lack a sense of history; it's another to have no shame.

  73. I do understand all of the anger and outrage - and old knows that I'd be screaming for justice had I purchased a Cobalt for my child, but I grew up in the Midwest near Detroit and worked in the auto plants and spent a considerable time immersed in the car culture.

    That capitalist culture reminds me of the fable of the frog and the scorpion: A scorpion begs a frog for a ride across a river. The frog declines, fearing that he'll be stung. The scorpion pledges not to sting the frog who reluctantly gives the scorpion a ride. Midway across, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog cries out, "Why?" as they are drowning. "It's my nature," replies the scorpion.

    Rant and rave as we might, it is the nature of capitalism to do a cost/benefit analysis that includes projected deaths versus legal costs. For GM, the Cobalt was a winner...until GM got caught.

    Sorry to digress, but did not our Congress (led by Cheney and Rumsfeld and Bush) conduct an identical analysis in 2002? A decade and 60,000 dead and wounded Americans later, how do we feel about the decision they arrived at?

    There was a time when American government and business did have some core ethics and a sense of decency and morality, when they understood that their prosperity relied on the work and trust of the people and the communities. One fears that time is gone. Watch your back.

  74. "There was a time when American government and business did have some core ethics and a sense of decency and morality, when they understood that their prosperity relied on the work and trust of the people and the communities." Tell it to Ralph Nader! If ever such a glowing time ever existed in the US, it was in a misty, rose-colored past that predates my existence. I have no delusions about corporate/capitalist goals, particularly in a time when Americans are more than willing to abdicate their power to the 1%! I just wonder endlessly when people are going to wake up and truly understand what kind of an economy we're supporting.

  75. Ford didn't take a bailout. As many said at the time, GM needed full BK to cleanse it, but they got the bailout. For destroying the lives of many due to GM's negligence, bring the former CEO, current management and the entire company to their knees. There are plenty of other "domestic" car makers to buy from.

  76. Speeding, drunk (unbelted?) driver loses control on winter road. Obviously the clear failure of a GM exec.

  77. So, after excoriating Ms. Barra, who has been at the helm of GM for three months, when are the congressional committees going to question the men who led GM throughout the previous decade of failure to correct the ignition switch issue?

  78. I enjoyed seeing the word "incidences" in the company spokesman's comment. A creative use of the English language.

  79. These cobalts were some of the first non-luxury vehicles I had heard of that employed drive by wire throttle controls meaning no physical connection between gas pedal(your foot) and the cars throttle. I always thought that I would not want to be driving a successor to the cavalier(read: dirt cheap car) which employed a fairly novel technology in such a critical system. It was not the technology itself that I found scary, german luxury cars had been employing it for a few years at that point, but it's presence in an economy car that made me cringe. Economy cars are truly that, manufacturers cut costs in every conceivable way (cheaper parts, cheaper materials, cheaper tires, cheaper paint and less of it, few amenities) to deliver a car at the lowest price possible while still turning a profit on each car. Less expensive parts are just one element of the equation but to me it seemed that to take a system found on $50+k german luxury cars and put it in a sub $15k car that they would have to make it cheaper somehow and I thought it was a bit frightening. Who would have guessed that instead their cost cutting on parts would result in something so common as the ignition switch to be a source of death and destruction?

  80. The reason I never, ever buy American if I can possibly help it is because buying American just lines the pockets of Wall Street and buys toys for the workers. When I buy EU- a good part of my money goes to improve EU societies and the lives of EU citizens. That doesn't seem to be true here, where the gazillion dollar "economy" can't produce safe streets, health care, good schools or anything else. Buy American- your money is basically pocketed (After all, it's capitalism.) Buy European and your contributing to the actual wellbeing of advanced societies as well as enriching individuals.
    I don't even reach the issue of quality before rejecting American (actually Chinese under American branding) goods.

  81. Do you honestly believe that your elitist consumer preferences are driven by altruism...that you can buy your way into heaven by choosing a Bimmer instead of a Chevy? Exactly where is your evidence that buying imported products "goes to improve EU societies" while buying American just "lines the pockets of Wall Street?"

  82. This is one of the most bizarre posts I've seen. So, let me understand better. Though you live in Minnesota, you're much more concerned about the fate of people who live in Germany or Sweden, etc., than those who actually live in your midst. Got it! While I don't drive a 'Murican car, I don't feel any necessity to rationalize my behavior with truly strange justifications. And, I would suggest that your passive-apathetic approach to living in this country is self-defeating. Given your "logic," I have to assume that you have an EU exit strategy; otherwise, you'll be living a very frustrated existence among those who can't produce "anything" good for a very long time.

  83. Mitsubishis are built in Normal, Illinois (I know, I had a Gallant that was built there). Toyotas are built in Tennessee. I had an old Buick Skyhawk (anybody remember those?) that was assembled in Canada and the drive train was made in South America (Brazil I think). So Ken, you'll have to tell me - just what IS an "American" car?

  84. Whatever the cause of the crashes, the cars don’t seem to have been crashworthy. It may be true that only head-on crashes would *definitely* set off airbag deployment, but practically speaking, the motion of other types of impact, at least those including the side impacts most dangerous to the driver, would be sensed similarly.

  85. I've never understood why Congress calls on CEOs of corporations to testify in their committee hearings. More often that not the CEO has no clue about the everyday operations of the company - especially one as large as GM. I can't imagine Ms. Barra's daily schedule, but I highly doubt she goes anywhere near automobiles, factories, engineering facilities, proving grounds, etc... And, if every problem made it to the CEO, then there's no need for lower-level management.

    The real person who Congress should have asked to testify would be the engineer who signed off on the part design change while keeping the same part number. More than likely, he signed off on it because he was told to - perhaps against his own judgement. Further, the former CEO and executive leadership should be subpoenaed to learn who knew what. If it was brought to the former CEO that there was a problem with the switch and a cost/benefit analysis was done that showed that it was cheaper to change the part, hide the problem, and deal with any legal issues on a one-off and confidential basis, then those individuals need to be held responsible - not Ms. Barra. Chances are the executives made a calculated decision to hope that 'not too many' incidents would happen during the lifetime of the fleet and the problem would 'go away' as time passed and the automobiles became scrapped.