GM files 200,000 pages of documents about recall to safety agency

DETROIT (Reuters) -- 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 today. The company has provided answers to nearly 65 percent of the 107 questions that the NHTSA asked, he said.

"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 e-mail.

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 documents public.

In addition to the NHTSA, Congress is investigating why GM took more than a decade to recall 2.6 million cars to replace the faulty switches. The 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 CEO 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 years combined.

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 in Venezuela.

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.

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