New documents have revealed that a current General Motors vice president, Doug Parks, was aware of the ignition switch problems on the Chevrolet Cobalt as early as 2005. At the time, Parks, whom Bloomberg called a "confidante" of CEO Mary Barra and an integral part of GM's product development team, was the chief engineer on the Cobalt and Saturn Ion. Congressional investigators uncovered the documents, which include an email from Parks and meeting attendance lists for the ignition switch problems.
This new evidence sheds some doubt on GM's own internal investigation, which found that none of the company's current executives knew of the ignition switch problems on the Cobalt and Ion. This news is also curious, following GM's large-scale dismissal of employees found to be responsible for the problem, such as Ray DeGiorgio.
"As Ms. Barra has said repeatedly we have taken all of the personnel actions that we feel are appropriate at this time," GM spokesman Greg Martin told Bloomberg via email.
More troubling, though, is what this revelation could do to GM's legal proceedings. The discovery of Parks' knowledge of the issue could cause potentially serious damage to GM's bankruptcy argument, in which it claims that "New GM" isn't responsible for the actions of "Old GM." According to Consumerist, lawyers could now argue that the lack of a recall, particularly when a former chief engineer and current vice president knew of the issue, could lend credence to arguments that the company was attempting to cover up the problem.