The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced plans on Monday to investigate both General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s response to consumer complaints. The complaints related to ignition-switch failures that were linked to 13 deaths an forced the recall of 1.6 million vehicles. The issue is that “heavy key rings or jarring can cause ignition switches on some Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn vehicles to slip out of position, cutting off power and deactivating air bags.”
The House’s investigation will focus on whether or not the vehicle problems could have been found and prevented sooner than they were in actuality. GM says it first became aware of the issue—though not necessarily its pervasiveness—in 2004. Investigators at GM began an inquiry in response to the early reports, but then closed the matter due to time required to implement potential changes. The NHTSA sent GM 107 questions to be answered in detail by April 3.
In addition to that investigation, GM has announced that it will commence with its own internal investigation. That inquiry will be headed up by Anton Valukas, previously most well known as the Justice Department’s examiner of the Lehman Brothers collapse.
The recall and subsequent investigations are the first for the company’s new CEO, Mary Barra, who initially learned of the issue about two weeks after she took the reins in late January.