Thursday, June 12, 2014

General Motors recalls regulatory black hole behind

In February, the U.S. General Motors recalls fatal delay decades vehicle ignition switch defect shocked the whole world. Then GM and U.S. regulators were quickly launched an investigation to find the reason behind the delay in the recall. GM's internal report recently released by the negligence of the engineering staff, investigative and legal staff and incompetent behavior causes the decades that security issues have failed to get attention. This incident highlights the regulatory defect from car manufacturers and the relevant departments thought-provoking, but also to bring the parties to speed up measures to address the new challenges facing the field of automotive safety.
Amazing scale recall
Since the airbag defects, General Motors announced on June 6 again four vehicle recall, involving a total of more than 100,000 cars worldwide. So far, the company has announced this year, more than 30 car-recall actions, and an increase of 30 surveys a number of products in the global auto recall the total has reached 15.3 million, more than General Motors in 2013 9.71 million global vehicle sales, and far more total global recall of 757,000 vehicles in 2013.
General Motors this year's massive recall, began in early ignition switch defect events. Since February of this year, General Motors worldwide recall due to the ignition switch problem more than 2.6 million vehicles. Since the ignition switch is defective, these vehicles may power steering and braking systems and airbags sudden failure and other problems can not be opened.
GM said the ignition switch problem led to at least 35 traffic accidents, more than 13 people died in traffic accidents related. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also said the final death toll caused by this security flaw may exceed 13 people.
Pour pressure
Recall events that took office in January this year to General Motors CEO Mary Barbara feel the pressure. In addition to the costs associated with spending a lot of money, "high-quality, reliable," the reputation of the government bailout of General Motors have also been won during an unprecedented impact on the U.S. Congress and regulatory agencies investigating the throng, related litigation is also increasing.
After the defective vehicle recall scandal, General Motors launched a more recalls, trying to restore a damaged reputation. Recall the issues involved, including the aging of the seat belt, and the display does not match the actual gear, air bags and fire hazards and other risks start. Multiple orders from the massive recall paying a huge cost generic companies.
Expenses for the first quarter of the company's automotive recalls and repairs up to $ 1.3 billion, most of which related to the vehicles ignition switch failure. Reported a first quarter net profit fell universal than 85 percent last year, marking the worst quarterly performance since the company out of bankruptcy protection since the first quarter, operating profit in the North American market declined to $ 557 million. General Motors said it has spent $ 700 million to replace the ignition switch and cylinder, and spent $ 600 million for the other recall items. GM said it expects second quarter of this fiscal year for repair expenses related to the vehicles will reach $ 400 million, of which half will be used for vehicle maintenance.
GM also announced an agreement last month with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, agreed that the failure to timely respond to the survey vehicle ignition switch failure to pay a fine of $ 35 million. This is the maximum penalty for a maximum fine of U.S. history of similar problems, but also the law. GM also promised that once October 4 to complete the repair schedule for any change to the federal transportation department will be notified.
In addition, General Motors has been charged defects associated with the ignition switch. In addition to accident victims and their families filed a lawsuit, as well as the ignition switch is defective because customers bring their vehicles depreciate instituted proceedings. Analysis expected in the next General Motors to pay compensation and legal fees related to at least several billion dollars.
However, GM's sales have not yet been significantly affected by the recall. General Motors released data show that in May General Motors sales up to 2 8.4 694 million, an increase of 13% over last year, the highest in seven years the best monthly sales performance.
How secure regulatory failure
Defective ignition switch is not common in the industry, but it is fatal. GM interior, people called it "switch from hell."
Even more shocking is that GM will know as early as 2004 these issues, but has not taken any measures related to vehicle recalls.
After the problem is exposed, U.S. regulators quickly set out to investigate, General Motors also launched an internal investigation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in March listed 107 questions asked General Motors to answer, including when GM was informed that car trouble, and what specific content, whether or not to withhold information in a timely manner in accordance with the law and whether reported information. But a month later, General Motors is still only about a third answer to the question, which makes the administration angry. To this end, the agency implemented a fine of General Motors $ 7,000 a day until its to answer all the questions raised. Eventually, the two sides reached an agreement, GM agreed to failure to respond to the survey vehicle ignition switch failure to pay a fine of $ 35 million.
General Motors announced last week lasted more than 300 pages of internal inspection reports. The report by the General Motors Company's legal advisor is responsible for drafting Jenner & Block, in the course of the investigation access to the 41 million documents, conducted 350 interviews. Reported that General Motors did not try to hide the ignition switch defect, but when dealing with ongoing problems in the vehicle's ignition switch defect "incompetent and negligent acts."
GM's internal report detailing the engineering, legal and public affairs departments in 11 years time, how will the ignition switch has not been considered a serious security flaw problem.
The ignition switch products in the late 1990s began to research and development, to reduce costs and improve performance, but the initial research has been unsatisfactory. In 2002, the designer of the ignition switch, GM engineers DiGeorge improved after the switch several times during production and use.
In 2004, GM began to report to the driver, the ignition switch gears in motion easily replaced, making the car engine suddenly stopped working. But from the beginning of this problem has been ignored. Although the number of motorists report on this issue to rise to dozens of people, General Motors engineers, investigators and legal staff still think this is just a "customer satisfaction" issue. At the security conference, the staff finds the habit of just need to deal with this issue, but ultimately failed to do the deal. The report notes that this issue is not recognized as a security issue, seriously affecting the timely attention and problem solving.
According to Reuters, in June 2005, there was a reporter at the time of the test drive was found, after driving the Chevrolet Kebao knee collision key ring, car engine in motion suddenly stopped working. At that time, a public relations officer, said GM's only response to this problem is not a security risk. But criticism of the article published on the reporter then still in his tenure newspaper. In response to the report, the security investigations department of General Motors tries to reproduce this failure, and concluded on June 28, 2005, limited safety hazards caused by this defect, no further monitoring.
Between 2004-2006, despite an increase in the number of reports of staff General Motors has yet to pay attention to this issue, also found no airbags may not work after the defect caused the accident.
And between 2005-2007, the ignition device using this GM compact car sales have been rising, reaching 200,000.
In 2007, a patrol together in the investigation involving two underage girls killed in a car accident Chevrolet Kebao the ignition switch shift resulted in an accident and the airbag does not work together, and send an electronic version of the document to General Motors . It was not until 2014 when an internal investigation, GM's security personnel noticed this document.
Also in 2007, an engineer at General Motors will shift the airbag ignition switch does not work linked and found no relevant reports from motorists after 2007, it was suspected the ignition device is designed who altered. In fact, he was right.
In 2006, DiGeorge agree to make changes to the design of the device, but did not change the part number, which led to the investigation department of General Motors a few years is difficult to understand the defects of the original parts. Although not explicitly inform DiGeorge and other General Motors colleagues this change, but the data show that some engineers in other departments but did not actually know to do deal with this change.
Later, a GM engineer Brian Christopher has launched a two-year and a half for the ignition internal investigation, the investigation until the end of 2013 until the end. Then General Motors really find this ignition switch device design has been changed. Followed until February 2014, General Motors was related recall.
Defect in the vehicle ignition switch delay recall, in addition to General Motors was criticized U.S. regulators have also been accused of regulatory loopholes.
U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on General Motors and the U.S. Highway Administration were severely criticized. Members concluded that GM's automotive-related faults and recall lagging response is not satisfactory, and that the Highway Authority has no basis to question the available information is the vehicle to investigate misconduct. Republican Congressman Tim Murphy said, danger signals have already appeared, but General Motors and the National Highway Authority of communication failure in this matter, and the result is fatal.
Accident investigation will continue
Barbara announced after the report was released, has been sacked 15 relevant management personnel, and the establishment of a fund to compensate victims. This five persons including legal and engineering services personnel, including ignition switch designer Raymond DiGeorge. Barbara said that the presence of the dismissed staff turnovers and incompetent behavior, some of the staff there are also another negligence, failure to take responsibility for the investigation and did not realize the urgency of the cause of the fatal accident, and notify senior management.
However, the general report also attempts to General Motors executives disclaimer. Report that Barbara, executives reporting directly to Barbara, the Board of Directors and former General Motors CEO deaths Dan Exxon last December before the ignition switch is caused by a defect did not know. This is the behavior of senior management to exculpate incurred sharp criticism. Some lawyers believe that senior management accountability if not, you can not really change their flawed corporate culture. Due to defects of the bereaved families of the victims expressed hope that the Justice Department can conduct a more thorough investigation, accountability for serious misconduct criminal liability.
After last week's general internal investigation report released, the U.S. Congress is expected to soon announce a new round of hearings. Chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee of Claire McCaskill said about General Motors will hold a hearing on why the delay recall this summer. She said, "I will not let the leadership of General Motors or federal regulators should bear the responsibility of escape for these tragedies. Affected families need to see their responsibility."

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