Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sent General Motors a 27 page document with 107 questions that dealt with the massive ignition switch recall that affects 2.8 million vehicles worldwide and is linked to 13 deaths. NHTSA gave the company a deadline of April 3rd to finish answering all of the questions. Well its a week after the deadline, NHTSA has announced it will fine GM $7,000 per day starting on April 3rd because the company hasn't answered all of the questions and being slow to respond. At this current time, the total fine stands at $28,000.
In a letter released last night, NHTSA said General Motors hasn't answered a third of its questions, including several that required no special technical expertise such as what data it looked at when deciding not to issue a recall before this year.
"These are basic questions concerning information that is surely readily available to GM at this time. It is deeply troubling that two months after recalling the vehicles, GM is unwilling or unable to tell NHTSA whether the design of the switch changed at any other time," said the agency.
NHTSA also warned that it could ask the Department of Justice to force GM's hand.
Now NHTSA does state that General Motors sent the agency a note on March 20th saying that it would need more time to answer the questions. Then on on April 4, GM told the agency that it wouldn't be able to answer all the questions since it has an ongoing outside investigation by former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas. He is looking into GM's handling of the recall that goes back to 2001. As you might have guess, NHTSA isn't exactly pleased about this.
“You explained that GM did not fully respond because an investigation by Anton Valukas and his team was in progress. This was the first time GM had ever raised Mr. Valukas’ work as a reason GM could not fully provide information to NHTSA in this timeliness investigation. Mr. Valukas’ investigation is irrelevant to GM’s legal obligation to timely respond to the special order and cooperate fully with NHTSA,” said NHTSA general counsel O. Kevin Vincent.
General Motors spokesman Greg Martin tells The Detroit News the company has been fully cooperative by handing over 271,000 pages of information.
“GM has produced nearly 21,000 documents totaling over 271,000 pages through a production process that spans a decade and over 5 million documents from 75 individual custodians and additional sources. Even NHTSA recognizes the breadth of its inquiry and has agreed, in several instances with GM, to a rolling production schedule of documents past the April 3rd deadline. We believe that NHTSA shares our desire to provide accurate and substantive responses. We will continue to provide responses and facts as soon as they become available and hope to go about this in a constructive manner. We will do so with a goal of being accurate as well as timely,” said Martin.
Martin didn't say if the company would contest the fine or not.