Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, an outspoken member of
the Senate Commerce Committee that is investigating GM, said there
are "a whole set of questions on why there were so many delays in
taking action to remedy this situation" that are still unanswered by
the Detroit automaker.
"Of course we have to go back to the prior CEOs" who headed GM
before this year's recall of 2.6 million automobiles, he said. The
recalled vehicles have ignition switches that can unexpectedly slip
out of the "run" position, shutting off engines, disabling air bags,
power steering and power brakes.
In a telephone interview with Reuters, Blumenthal stressed that it
will be up to Senator Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of a commerce
subcommittee, to schedule the next hearings and decide who will
Asked about Blumenthal's interest in getting testimony of former
chief executives, GM spokesman James Cain repeated an earlier
statement that the company's senior leadership team was not aware of
the recall decision until January 31 of this year. He added that an
internal investigation into the handling of the ignition switch
problem is under way.
"When the facts are in, we will be transparent and hold ourselves
accountable," Cain said.
Blumenthal added that "very definitely I want to hear" from former
GM CEO Daniel Akerson, who held the post from 2010 until early this
year when current CEO Mary Barra took over. During that time, GM was
conducting internal investigations into the defective part.
[to top of second column]
Separately, GM announced on Tuesday that it is restructuring its
engineering operations in a move meant to improve quality and safety
of its vehicles, and that its global vehicle engineering chief, John
Calabrese, is retiring.
Barra testified to the Senate panel on April 2, and to a House of
Representatives subcommittee on April 1. She said she would be
willing to return to Capitol Hill for more testimony.
Barra frustrated many members of Congress by testifying that she
could not answer their questions because she is so new in the job,
after decades of holding other positions within GM.
GM engineers first noticed problems more than a decade ago with
ignition switches in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other GM
models but did not notify consumers until this year.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by Karey Van Hall, Peter
Henderson and Mohammad Zargham)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.