GM CEO said ignition-switch recall will take time to play out

Tue Mar 4, 2014 3:38pm EST
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) Chief Executive Mary Barra said the No. 1 U.S. automaker was sorry for the recent recall of an ignition-switch linked to 13 deaths, and said the process would take time to play out but the company would work to ensure customer satisfaction.

In a letter to employees on Tuesday, Barra, who took over in January as the automotive industry's first female chief executive, said the recall would "take time to play out" and GM would cooperate with all the parties involved. She said customer safety and satisfaction would be at the heart of every decision made.

Those groups include U.S. safety regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which last week opened an investigation into whether the Detroit company reacted fast enough in its recall of more than 1.6 million cars.

GM employees can expect "additional developments in the near term" related to the recall, Barra said in the letter posted on GM Fastlane, the company's electronic news magazine. She did not provide more details but reiterated that the company had launched an internal review "to give us an unvarnished report on what happened."

"We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again," she said.

"While I deeply regret the circumstances that brought us to this point, I appreciate how today's GM has responded so far," Barra added.

For any employees wondering how the recall would affect GM's reputation or sales, Barra said that was not the issue. "Our company's reputation won't be determined by the recall itself, but by how we address the problem going forward," she said.

Other actions taken by GM include the creation of a group of senior executives led by Barra to direct the company's response, monitor progress and make adjustments as needed; working with dealers to ensure customer satisfaction; coordinating the rollout of replacement parts with the supplier; and keeping federal regulators informed, Barra said.   Continued...

General Motors Co's new chief executive Mary Barra addresses the media during a roundtable meeting with journalists in Detroit, Michigan January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/Pool