The public inquiry into the General Motors recall of roughly 1.6 million vehicles continues to broaden, and the US House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning a hearing to investigate GM's reaction to the problem. A date for the questioning hasn't been set yet, but it's expected to include officials from the automaker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to Automotive News.

The committee is chaired by US Representative Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, who also oversaw a subcommittee investigation of rollovers of Ford Explorers with Firestone tires in 2000. In response, he sponsored and passed the Tread Act that required automakers to report defects to NHTSA in a timely matter. "Here we are over a decade later, faced with accidents and tragedies, and significant questions need to be answered. Did the company or regulators miss something that could have flagged these problems sooner?" said Upton in a statement on the committee's website.

According to AN, the automaker's internal investigation is led by former US attorney Anton Valukas, its general counsel, Michael Millikin and attorneys from the law firm King & Spalding. NHTSA is running a separate probe and submitted a 27-page questionnaire to GM about how it handled the recall, and how it will improve its process. The company has until April 3 to respond to the regulator.

"We are fully cooperating with NHTSA and will do so with the Committee, too. We welcome the opportunity to help both parties have a full understanding of the facts. I do not have any other details," said Alan Adler, GM's spokesperson on legal and recall topics, in an email to Autoblog.

The faulty ignition switches have been shown to turn off a vehicle inadvertently if jostled or put under heavy pressure, like if the driver had a weighty keychain. When this happens it also deactivates the airbag. There have been 13 fatalities and 31 crashes attributed to the problem. GM is facing a fine as high as $35 million from NHTSA if found that it delayed the recall, the highest ever in the industry. The company is also open to possible consumer lawsuits related to the issue.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Probe them like the TSA probes brown people. Check deep, check twice!
      • 1 Year Ago
      35 mil fine? That's pure Favoritism
      • 1 Year Ago
      When they first became aware of the problem, they could have at least put out a warning to not use a heavy keychain. That would have cost virtually nothing and saved lives.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Gotta love GM's commitment to "quality"
      NAIF S
      • 1 Year Ago
      If anything needs "PROBING" it is the U.S. House.
      • 1 Year Ago
      GM is back. General Motors made a name for itself in decades and years past for poorly engineered and constructed cars, beginning in the early 70’s with such gems as the Vega, Olds Cierra and Cadillac Cimarron. They extended the string through the 2000’s with, among other offerings, those that are currently the focus of ignition switch maladies (apparently the switch in use all those years would switch itself spontaneously from “on” to “accessory”, switching off the ignition, air bags and who knows what else as owners drove). GM has known about the problem since the early 2000’s. This morning’s Wall Street Journal reported that GM has brought in a prominent lawyer to “persuade consumers, regulators and lawmakers that it is responding rapidly.” After 10 years. After 13 deaths. I think the message for all of us is that at its core GM hasn’t changed, and that its products continue to be and possibly always will be suspect – at best warranting skepticism. There may be a reason why folks buy those things and carry their families in them, but recent events document the reason I wouldn’t put my family in one. Now to await criminal prosecution for the GM execs who we will presently come to know are responsible for inaction on this fatal problem.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hope they find and peg the engineers and managers who allowed this to happen. Not scapegoats, the the people who closed the PRTSs without action. The problem is that GM's internal document retention rules have probably led to a natural purge of a lot of the original data. If not, there is an intern hastily shredding files and deleting files of in a dark corner of the Ren Cen right this minute.
      • 1 Year Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Question: How liable is the General Motors Company for General Motors Corporation's (Notice name change in 2009) mistakes?
      • 1 Year Ago
      I guess it gives otherwise useless Congressmen something to do that won't impact on the lives of most of the population....
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