General Motors (NYSE:GM) CEO Mary Barra has only been on the job for a couple of months, but is already overseeing one of GM’s larger recall efforts, which covers about 1.6 million vehicles, all of which have been since discontinued.
The recall covers the Solstice, Sky, G6, Ion, Cobalt, and HHR models across the Pontiac, Chevrolet, and Saturn brands; if too much weight is applied to the keyring, the ignition cylinder can disengage while the car is at speed, causing it to shut down and disable the air bags. So far, 13 deaths resulting from 31 accidents have been reported since the issue began in 2004.
Barra emailed to GM employees on Tuesday and said that the team of senior executives that she’s leading would be monitoring the company’s progress on addressing the recall, and make adjustments to its course of action or strategy if deemed necessary, Automotive News reported.
GM has “empowered our dealers with resources to provide affected customers with the peace of mind they deserve,” Barra said. GM also launched an internal investigation into the matter, ”to give us an unvarnished report of what happened” during the decade between the time the problem was identified up until the recall was triggered in January.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also launched a probe looking into GM’s timeliness of action, though by policy it doesn’t comment on open investigations. The initial recall of 778,000 vehicles was expanded on February 25, after it became clear that the problem was spread further than initially thought. It’s a formidable test of the mettle for GM’s new management team, which is working to shake the “old GM” reputation to replace with with “new GM.”
“The vehicles we make today are the best in memory and I’m confident that they will do fine, on their own merits,” Barra penned in her email. “And our company’s reputation won’t be determined by the recall itself, but by how we address the problem going forward. What is important is taking great care of our customers and showing that it really is a new day at GM.”
“We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again,” she said.