GM questioning employees in ignition-switch recall probe-sources

Wed Mar 5, 2014 12:59pm EST
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT, March 5 (Reuters) - General Motors Co is moving to learn more internally about its handling of the recall of ignition switches linked to 13 deaths, including questioning employees involved in the process from the start, according to two people familiar with the situation.

A team of attorneys investigating the No. 1 U.S. automaker's recall of more than 1.6 million vehicles were interviewing employees on Wednesday, trying to learn exactly how the company handled the issue when it was first discovered in 2004, said the people, who asked not to be identified.

GM spokesman Greg Martin did not reveal details of the company's internal probe but pointed to Chief Executive Mary Barra's letter to employees on Tuesday, in which she said the company would take an "unvarnished" look at how the process was handled.

Barra said in the letter that she was leading a team of senior executives that is directing GM's response to the recall, as well as, monitoring progress and making adjustments as needed. She stressed that customer satisfaction is paramount in the process.

Also on Tuesday, GM said it received a 27-page list of 106 questions from U.S. safety regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the company's handling of the recall. NHTSA opened a probe last week into whether GM reacted swiftly enough in its recall. The request directs the Detroit company to respond by April 3.

"As we have previously stated, we are fully cooperating with NHTSA and we welcome the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts," the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In addition to getting NHTSA the information they need, we are doing what we can now to ensure our customers' safety and peace of mind," GM added. "We want our customers to know that today's GM is committed to fixing this problem in a manner that earns their trust."

GM, which went through a bankruptcy restructuring in 2009, could face a maximum fine of $35 million if it failed to notify NHTSA within five days of a recall after learning of a vehicle safety defect.   Continued...