GM CEO Mary Barra was not aware of faulty switches, says Dan Akerson

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 31, 2014

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra had no knowledge of the faulty ignition switches in its small cars linked to at least 13 deaths when she took the top post in January 2014, predecessor Dan Akerson has told Forbes. The report quoted Akerson as saying "of course not" after asked whether Barra "was thrown under the bus" by taking over the CEO role just before the carmaker issued the recall for 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switch.

He noted that Barra has also said that by the time she knew of the problem, “she confronted it." Akerson announced his retirement in December 2013 and officially handed the role to Barra on Jan. 15, 2014. Barra remarked she and other GM executives only became aware of the issue on Jan. 31.

The carmaker has acknowledged that some workers already knew of the issue for more than a decade. Akerson told Forbes that Barra "didn’t know about" the issue. The ignition switch could shift out of the "run" position if shoved or weighed down by a heavy key chain.

This could result to a shut off of the power steering and brakes and to disabling of the airbag. GM recently hiked the number of crashes tied to the defect to 47, from 35.

The carmaker’s handling of the issue has been probed by the United States Justice Department, two congressional committees and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The NHTSA has already imposed $35-million fine on GM for its delayed response in reporting the defect. GM disclosed that sufficient parts to fix the recalled vehicles will arrive October, noting that only 47,000 of the 2.6 million vehicles had received replacement switches as of last week. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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