Investigation reveals GM’s Mary Barra knew of trouble in 2011

Filed under: Government/Legal, GM

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Mary Barra received a letter warning of steering problems associated with certain models of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion.

An investigation into ignition-switch defects in several General Motors vehicles revealed Friday the company’s current CEO knew of trouble with the models as early as 2011.

One of the two Congressional subcommittees probing GM released an email that showed Mary Barra received a letter warning of steering problems associated with certain models of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, two of the cars recalled in February because they contained a deadly flaw.

It remains unclear how – or if – the steering problem mentioned in the email relates to the ignition-switch defect, which has caused at least 13 deaths and 31 crashes. Rep. Fred Upton, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, cautioned “there’s much left to examine.” General Motors did not return a request for comment Friday afternoon.

The email in question, sent on Oct. 3, 2011 by GM engineer Terry Wojchowski, warned Barra the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had upgraded an investigation of Saturn Ions over a “heightened concern that a sudden loss of electric power steering could cause crashes.”

At the time, the federal safety agency had 846 related complaints on file, and the email says GM had almost 3,500 of its own regarding that problem. While the link is not definitive, a sudden loss of electric power steering would be one symptom of the ignition-switch problem, in which the switch inadvertently moves from the “run” to “accessory” positions, and turns off the engine, electrical systems such as steering, and safety systems like airbags.

Continue reading Investigation reveals GM’s Mary Barra knew of trouble in 2011

Investigation reveals GM’s Mary Barra knew of trouble in 2011 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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