The government is fining General Motors with a $US28,000 civil penalty for failing to respond fully to a request for information related to its recall of more than 2.5 million vehicles.
In a letter to GM’s legal staff, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explained the U.S. Secretary of Transportation directed a Special Order to the automaker, with a list of requested information related to how GM handled the recall.
According to NHTSA, the automaker responded to less than two-thirds of the requests by the given April 3 deadline. (The Special Order was directed on March 4.)
The letter reads in part:
On April 4, you acknowledged that GM had not fully responded to the Special Order. You explained the GM did not fully respond because an investigation by Anton Valukas and his team was in progress. This was the first time GM had ever raised Mr. Valukas’ work as a reason GM could not provide information to NHTSA in this timeliness investigation
[Some of] These are basic questions concerning information that is surely readily available to GM at this time. Moreover, it is deeply troubling that two months after recalling the vehicles, GM is unwilling or unable to tell NHTSA whether the design of the switch changed at any other time.
This kind of response from GM echoes testimony by CEO Mary Barra before Congress last week. She repeatedly declined to answer specific questions, citing the ongoing investigation.
In a statement, GM said it has “worked tirelessly from the start to be responsive to NHTSA’s special order” and “will continue to provide responses and facts as soon as they become available and hope to go about this in a constructive manner.” It also noted that it has produced nearly 300,000 pages of documents, and wrote “even NHTSA recognises the breadth of its inquiry and has agreed, in several instances with GM, to a rolling production schedule of documents past the April 3rd deadline.”
The recall includes seven GM models made between 2003 and 2011, which may have faulty ignition switches that can flip out of the “run” position while the car is moving, turning off the engine, cutting some electric power, and disabling the airbags. Crashes caused by the defect have been connected to 13 deaths.
NHTSA will continue to fine GM $US7,000 per day until the automaker fully answers all the questions asked.
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