GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, the first woman to have secured such a high automotive position, came under fire on Capitol Hill for the fourth time. The hearing was in relation to the company’s long-delayed recall of 2.6 million cars.
The deadly flaw, a defective ignition switch that can cause the car’s engine to stall mid-driving, prompting the catastrophic failure of key safety systems, including the airbags, was only revealed back in February. Subsequent investigations found the flaw to have been known to GM employees for at least a decade. Barra yesterday returned in front of the Senate in her fourth apparition before a congressional panel, with the US lawmakers ready for new critics – and also some praise.
“While General Motors’ legal department came under withering attack from the Senate committee investigating the ignition switch debacle, GM CEO Mary Barra emerged largely unscathed in the questioning, and I’m certain that is seen as a win by the top executive team at GM,” said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com.
Some of the company’s actions, including a culture of “lawyering up” that “killed innocent customers” came under fire, but Barra was also praised for her leadership position – in which she looks set to change the corporate culture and treat victims fairly by setting up a compensation fund managed from outside.