Barra's comments, made to reporters on Tuesday after an industry
conference ahead of the New York Auto Show, referred to Ray
DeGiorgio and Gary Altman, two engineers involved in the development
of the defective switches, which are being replaced in 2.6 million
recalled GM vehicles.
"There was a lot of attention, and we agonized over that decision,
but we felt it was right for the individuals and right for the
company at this time," she said of DeGiorgio, who designed the
switch, and Altman, who was the program engineering manager for the
GM has not explained why the men were suspended, and the two have
not responded to Reuters requests for comment.
In the wake of the recall, announced in several waves in February
and March, Barra said on Tuesday that GM is creating a new global
product integrity organization that will focus on product safety and
quality. It will report to Jeff Boyer, who was named the chief of
vehicle safety in mid-March, and Mark Reuss, GM's global product
"This new way of developing vehicles will provide the highest levels
of safety, quality, and customer service, and ensure that a
situation like the ignition-switch recall doesn't happen again,"
Barra said in New York.
The automaker is on track to complete its own investigation of the
recall by the middle to the end of May, Barra said. The internal
probe is being headed by Anton Valukas, chief executive of Chicago
law firm Jenner & Block, which has done legal work for GM for more
than 10 years.
"When Mr. Valukas has completed his investigation, we will then take
the appropriate actions and then, as I've said, we will be
transparent. So that's where we're at," Barra said.
[to top of second column]
Congress also is investigating the recall, and a group of U.S.
lawmakers on Tuesday wrote to Delphi Automotive<DLPH.N>, asking
whether the parts maker had pushed back when the automaker
apparently did not accept a proposed fix to the ignition switch.
Barra said a team at GM is working around the clock to answer
questions asked by the U.S. National Highway Traffic and Safety
Administration on the ignition switch defect issue.
Last week, NHTSA said GM did not answer more than a third of the 107
questions the safety regulator asked. GM faces a $7,000-per-day fine
since the April 3 deadline for not responding to all questions.
She said GM may wait for the completion of Valukas' investigation
before answering some of NHTSA's questions.
Barra spoke at an auto industry conference held by the National
Automobile Dealers Association and J.D. Power.
(Additional reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit;
Bernard Orr and Peter Henderson)
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