GM addresses NHTSA's recall inquiries, ending daily fines of $7,000

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WASHINGTON -- General Motors has met requirements of federal safety regulators for documents and other information tied to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles for defective ignition switches linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes, and the company is no longer being fined $7,000 a day.

GM will pay more than $420,000 in fines for not meeting an April 3 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration deadline to answer 107 questions about the recall.

The Detroit News first reported the development late Tuesday.

GM agreed to pay a separate fine of $35 million on May 16 for delaying the defective ignition switch recall for a decade. As part of the $35 million fine and under a consent decree with U.S. regulators, GM faces wider government oversight of its safety initiatives for up to three years.

NHTSA began fining GM $7,000 a day on April 4 for failing to fully answer questions about the automaker’s ignition switch recall.

A Department of Transportation spokeswoman told The News that the fines ended on June 5. That’s when GM submitted a 315-page internal investigation from attorney and former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas into the ignition switch crisis at GM.

The company has been dogged by the scandal over why it took more than a decade to begin recalling low-cost Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars with faulty ignition switches that caused the vehicles to stall during operation.

When the engines stalled, air bags failed to deploy during crashes -- some of them fatal -- and drivers struggled to control their vehicles as power steering and brake systems malfunctioned.

GM has parted ways with 15 employees and disciplined another five employees as part of its probe.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told The News that GM has submitted all the documents NHTSA had sought.

“We have what we asked for,” Foxx told The News. “The [GM] report is consistent with what we said a few weeks ago, which is there are some culture issues.” Foxx told the paper the ignition switch problems were “entirely preventable.”

GM must pay the $35 million fine by Friday. GM spokesman Greg Martin saidthe company will “pay under the terms of the consent order.”

Foxx told the newspaper that the GM recalls have impacted the U.S. auto industry.

“We expect the timely disclosure of issues, and if we don’t get a timely disclosure there will be consequences,” Foxx said. “We’ll keep doing that industrywide if we have to until we see compliance across the board.”

GM faces other probes about the recall in Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice. In addition, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general is also investigating NHTSA’s handling of the recall.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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