GM’s Barra: I Don't Know Why It Took Us So Long

But new CEO promises company will find out why recall was delayed

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 1, 2014 6:06 PM CDT

(Newser) – GM's new CEO went to Capitol Hill today to explain why it took her company a decade to respond to a deadly ignition switch problem, but Mary Barra didn't have much light to shed. “I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced,” she said in her opening testimony before a House panel. “I can tell you that we will find out.” Some highlights from the testimony:

  • 'Deeply sorry': "Today's GM will do the right thing," she said, as per the Hill. "That begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall, especially the families and friends who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry."

  • 'Very disturbing': Asked about reports that GM officials rejected a recall years ago because it would be too expensive, Barra did not try to defend the company. "I found that statement to be very disturbing," she said, according to USA Today. "That is unacceptable. That is not how we do business in today's GM."
  • 'Gobbledygook': When pressed by Texas' Joe Barton, an industrial engineer, on why GM used an ignition switch that didn't meet its own specs, Barra gave an involved answer and maintained that the practice doesn't necessarily mean a part is defective. “What you just answered is gobbledygook,” Barton responded, reports the LA Times.
  • Victims' compensation: Barra revealed that GM has hired Kenneth Feinberg, an expert in victims' comp claims, to guide it through liability issues.
  • First victim: The Washington Post recounts that the first known fatality was Amber Marie Rose, 16, of Maryland. Authorities say she had been drinking and wasn't wearing a seatbelt when she crashed in 2005. But why didn't her airbag deploy? Because the faulty ignition switch turned off the car's power.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra lowers her eyeglasses as she testifies on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
House Oversight and Investigation subcommittee member Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., questions General Motors CEO Mary Barra.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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