Fiat Chrysler CEO says GM has made automakers more sensitive on safety

Wed May 21, 2014 5:26pm EDT
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By Eric Beech

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FIA.MI Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday the fallout from General Motors' (GM.N: Quote) delay in recalling millions of cars for faulty ignition switches has made automakers more sensitive about safety issues.

"Given the nature of the events that we've seen in the last three or four months, I think it is more than likely automotive houses will now shift their attitude and be even more prudent than they would have been under normal circumstances. And probably beyond what is required," Marchionne told reporters.

GM is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several states for waiting 10 years after first learning of the defective ignition switches to issue the recall.

At least 13 deaths have been linked to the faulty part in 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars, which were recalled beginning in February.

GM has issued a total of 29 recalls this year involving a record 13.8 million vehicles in the United States.

"I just find the number of recalls that have come out to just be an astounding number, just in sheer size," Marchionne said after an event at Brookings Institution.

"It can't be all of a sudden we woke up to these issues. There must be a change in attitude inside the (companies)," he said.

Marchionne said that if the frequency of recalls conducted by GM becomes the norm in the industry, the costs will be shifted to consumers in the form of higher-priced cars.   Continued...

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne answers questions from the media during the FCA Investors Day at the Chrysler World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook