Anthony Foxx, the US Transportation Secretary has pledged to face General Motors and the way it handled the reporting of the ignition switch problems and subsequent recall with an “aggressive investigation”.
Foxx addressed a Senate panel and wants the No.1 US automaker to be thoroughly investigated, so that the truth can be found out regarding whether the company deliberately slowed down the report about the problem, which so far took the life of at least 12 persons in related crashes.
“The questions we are asking are whether there was a timeliness issue with GM’s bringing to our attention the issues regarding this ignition switch,” Foxx told a Senate panel. “Had we known there was an issue, that might have changed the outcome of those initial crash investigations.”
The Transportation Secretary also said if there are further industry delays in reporting problems to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, his department would have a “very, very tough” response.
“By concealing the ignition key defect for at least 10 years, GM created more victims and then robbed them of their legal rights through the passage of time,” wrote Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, and Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen in a letter addressed to GM’s CEO, Mary Barra.
General Motors has decided to recall in February no less than 1.6 million vehicles produced between 2005-2007 to fix the ignition switch condition which could lead to unexpected engine shutdown while driving – leading to critical safety systems to also turn off.