The ongoing investigation into General Motors' 1.6-million-car ignition recall continues to pick up steam, with most questions centering on what the company knew and when it knew it. On Tuesday, newly minted CEO Mary Barra held a press conference to directly address questions about GM's safety problems and their ramifications. In addition to public criticism and potential lawsuits, the business is facing multiple government examinations into how it handled the issue.

During the conference, Barra reportedly said that she first learned about an internal safety investigation in late December and found out that a recall was necessary on January 31. A repair campaign for 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models was first announced on February 13 and broadened about a week later to cover more models.

According to The New York Times, during the conference, Barra was asked directly if the affected cars are safe to drive until the ignition switch is replaced. She responded: "If you have just the ring with the key, it is safe to drive." She spoke to GM engineers about the issue and asked them, "Would you let your wife drive this car? ... And they said yes." The problem, which involves the potential for the ignition to shut off unintentionally (killing engine power and deactivating the airbags), is understood to be exacerbated by large and heavy key rings that place strain on the ignition.

The company has been addressing this major safety issue since it went public in February. On March 18, it appointed Jeff Boyer to the newly created position of vice president for global vehicle safety. It has also promised loaner vehicles and a $500 cash allowance on a new GM product to affected owners.

The automaker is still facing a hearing in front of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee. Barra said she would speak there if asked, according to the NYT. The company is also preparing a 107-question timeline on the recall for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and conducting an internal investigation. This is clearly far from over, so stay tuned for future developments.


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  • 47 Comments
      Arizonarelax
      • 1 Year Ago
      WOW! setting the ground rules for public opinion and stock prices. I am really surprised she said that about the key ring. Not that I am any fan of attorneys but she should have anticipated that question and had a prepared response from legal counsel. She has committed GM and her position that the cars are safe if you follow this rule. Let's hope that is true. Mary welcome to the big league.
      viggen
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lol, this is ridiculous, but what one should expect from a company that (thanks to taxpayers) didn't have to take responsibility from the incompetence of its management and labor organization. Bottom line, GM is still largely run by a group of people whose only career claim to fame is overseeing the decline of what was once one of the world's great companies into bankruptcy. Three cheers for Ford -- they believed in themselves, invested in the company, refused a bailout and now offers one of the most desirable mainstream product lines in the industry (of course more attention to quality would be appreciated!)...
        techie69
        • 1 Year Ago
        @viggen
        Both GM and Ford need an office to check their recalls since its been years they have been slipping under the radar with their trash. It is laughable to actually at this age of information availability to have the notion that Ford survived the economic turmoil without borrowing large sums of money and burying the company with debt as well as to dimwhits who think they never received money from the govt! Hate to bust your bubble but Ford received multi-million dollar checks under the guise of funds to build cars for export and electrification of their fleet! When this govt is done all that protectionism will done, there will be massive recalls for Ford and GM!
      GM Recall Survivors
      • 1 Year Ago
      My name is Laura Christian. I am the birth mother of the first Cobalt fatality, Amber Marie Rose. I have created a Facebook page for the victim's friends and families and those that support our cause. Please friend us at https://www.facebook.com/gmrecall.survivors
      Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      If the car is driven as delivered, not treating the ignition switch as a hook to hang whatever cutsy thing you want to carry around in your pocket, sounds like a reasonable requirement to me.
        GM Recall Survivors
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mike
        It is not reasonable to expect that the airbags deploy. Really? That's the comment that the key ring is the real issue.
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      Janitors should be included on future case studies.
      Wetstuff
      • 1 Year Ago
      Every management level employee should be made to drive one of these cars 'till the ones they sold to the Zero Down/72mo types are repaired. Just like Bush and Cheney should have been made to go to Dover and meet the planes coming back from Iraq. Jim
      always_busy
      • 1 Year Ago
      She seems to be up front, willing to answer questions and attempting to get the issue resolved, a step in the right direction at least.
        tiger
        • 1 Year Ago
        @always_busy
        Not sure why you are getting down voted... You only stated the facts. Up vote for you!
          always_busy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @tiger
          Thanks! You never know around here.. lmao :-)
      gtv4rudy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Poor Mary. She's left holding the bag after all the old execs responsible for this mess left and retired.
      Terry Actill
      • 1 Year Ago
      I got my wife to take off half a dozen keys (some she didn't even know what they were), kid's photos, library card, supermarket petrol discount card, work ID card etc from her car key ring the other day. It weighed a lot and used to swing way too much. There was a design flaw in these recalled vehicles, but human error also played a part.
        owen brown
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Terry Actill
        Are effing serious? So only GM drivers got a lot of sh!t on their key chains then? SMFH
          tiger
          • 1 Year Ago
          @owen brown
          I don't believe he said only GM drivers. Nope, he didn't I just re-read it. What he is saying is his wife had a bunch of crap on the key ring. It just so happens the problem with the ignition is compounded by the weight of the ring. There is still a problem and removing keys that you have no idea what they are for is a temporary fix.
          Jake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @owen brown
          I still have the hubcap from the gas station hanging off of mine.
      denisp
      • 1 Year Ago
      More BS from the CEO of GM. I find it so hard to believe that people love the GM junk.It takes 30 days for her to do a recall.Who is kidding who.Why are heads not rolling for covering up what GM knew long ago.And asking a GM engineer if he would let his wife drive one of these pieces of junk.What could he say "no" CLM Career limiting move
      amge5.5
      • 1 Year Ago
      Didn't the engineers say that hitting column with your knee would also cause it to shut off? Why is she telling people it is safe if you unload your key ring when there are other documented problems with it shutting off?
      Jerry
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lol she should drive a Cobalt XFE to all of the hearings. It would be funny.
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