GM emails show more unheeded warnings about ignition defects
By Ben Klayman and Eric Beech
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday accused General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) of a "disturbing pattern" of neglecting safety and revealed emails from 2005 in which a GM employee warned a "big recall" may be necessary over an ignition-switch problem that was only addressed this week.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra faced tough questions about widespread safety failures at GM in her third public appearance before Congress since the automaker started recalling millions of vehicles in February.
The No. 1 U.S. automaker has issued 44 recalls this year, including one for an ignition flaw linked to at least 13 deaths over the past decade. It has recalled 20 million vehicles, mostly in the United States, of which nearly 6.5 million were recalled for ignition switch-related issues.
In the emails made public on Wednesday, GM employee Laura Andres in 2005 sent one to engineers warning that a 2006 Chevy Impala Special car she was driving had experienced an engine stall when moving between a paved road and gravel.
She said a technician had advised the problem may be with part of the ignition switch.
"I think this is a serious safety problem, especially if this switch is on multiple programs. I'm thinking big recall," Andres said in an email sent to 11 other GM employees including the vice president of North American engineering.
Andres declined to comment on Wednesday.
The 2006 Impala was not recalled until Monday of this week, as part of an additional 3 million cars that GM recalled for an ignition-switch issue. Continued...