No end in sight to GM mess

Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.

Last week brought more revelations about General Motors and the infamous ignition switch, and there was more grueling testimony, from executives at GM and Delphi.

It is a mess, and it keeps going.

There is a never-ending series of questions surrounding the design, engineering and approval of the lethal ignition switch.

So it is quite remarkable that the disaster doesn't seem to have had any impact on GM's car and truck sales.

Perhaps it's because no one buys a GM car. People buy Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs. Unlike with other automakers, the corporate name is different from the names of its brands. And many of the recalled models' names have been retired.

But for GM this issue has to go away, and the sooner the better.

Only the end to the investigation of the ignition switch is nowhere in sight.

GM executives are wrong if they think that just because there was an internal investigation they are being transparent. There are still far too many unanswered questions.

Whether it's a congressional committee hearing or a newspaper article, I am sure GM would love to see this end. So would its suppliers and dealers.

But GM's internal investigation, headed by outside legal counsel, didn't settle the issue. And there doesn't seem to be an easy way to get all the facts.

You can't help but wonder whether, despite top management's feelings, there might be a number of GM folks who simply don't want this investigation to go too deeply into what happened and why the problem took so long to discover, or why GM replaced one part with another without changing the part number.

What's more, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should undergo just as thorough an investigation.

There are plenty of questions still not asked about the agency's ability to manage its regulatory mission. It's clear that NHTSA has lots of room for improvement. The agency also may need to make wholesale changes.

There's no silver bullet to make all this quickly disappear for General Motors.

You can reach Keith Crain at



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