Barra said that GM is working as quickly as possible to make replacement parts available to fix a deadly problem with their ignition switches. More than 1.37 million U.S. vehicles have been recalled over the past two months because of the problem.
Replacement parts should begin arriving at dealerships on April 7, and parts will be available for all affected cars by October. In the meantime, Barra said the affected cars are safe to driver – so long as drivers remove all their keys from key chains.
Engineers ran "extensive" tests on the affected ignition switches, according to Barra, and told her the cars were safe in the interim. "My very first question to them was, 'Would you let your family, your spouse, your children drive these cars?'" she said in one of the five videos released on YouTube today. "They said yes."
The topics Barra addressed in the videos included: "Can we be sure this won't happen again," "When can I get my car fixed" and "Why the delay in announcing the recall?"
Documents have shown that GM knew of the defect as early as 2004, before the cars were even sold to the public. Yet the company did nothing to prevent the problems when the ignition switches were installed on the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion and Pontiac Solstice.
The defect has caused at least 12 deaths and 31 car accidents, GM has acknowledged.
Why the company delayed a recall of the defective cars until February after knowing about the problem for at least a decade has become the subject of numerous investigations being conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Department of Justice and U.S. Congress.
The Senate Commerce Committee will start a hearing on the recall on April 2, and GM is scheduled to submit a formal response to other federal investigators no later than April 3. In the meantime, Barra reiterated an apology in her video segments Wednesday.
She never quite answered the question posed in the subject of one of the videos," Why the delay announcing the recall?" but said that, "Clearly, the fact it took over 10 years indicates that we have work to do. ... I can commit to you we will put all those processes and learnings in place to make sure this never happens again."
Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.