April 01 - General Motors CEO Mary Barra answers questions regarding the automaker's slow response to defective ignition switches in its cars, and apologizes to families of victims. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. lawmakers trying to establish who is to blame for at least 13 auto-related deaths over the past decade harshly questioned General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Tuesday afternoon over the automaker's slow response to defective ignition switches in its cars. Despite tougher laws enacted in 2000 and 2010 to encourage automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to aggressively root out safety concerns, it took GM more than 10 years to publicly acknowledge that it had a potentially fatal problem. Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles due to concerns about ignition switches that unexpectedly turn off engines during operation and leave airbags, power steering and power brakes inoperable. In her opening remarks, GM CEO Mary Barra apologized for the automaker's slow response to defective ignition switches. "Today's GM will do the right thing. That begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall. Especially the family and friends who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry," said Barra. Pressure intensified on GM to advise consumers to take the troubled cars off the road immediately, and a growing list of consumer groups urged the automaker to establish a victims' compensation fund that they think should top $1 billion. GM has said repeatedly that the cars in question are safe to drive as long as the ignition key and no other items are attached to a key ring. The company, however, has announced a total of nearly 7 million vehicles recalled so far this year for various safety issues, almost equivalent to the previous four years combined.