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GM News: General Motors Gets A $28,000 Fine From NHTSA For Answering Questions Too Slowly


William Maley

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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.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), The Detroit News, Motoramic

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.


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How about a reverse fine against NHTSA for being ignorant in doing their job from the begining back when this problem began.

Talk about a bunch of Morons covering their Arses in trying to make sure they still have a chair at the table of I kiss yours if you kiss mine stupid politics.

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All this nonsense stems from the fact that we do not have a legal system based strictly upon contractual obligations and specific legal compliance. There shouldn't be ANY legal obligation between a manufacturer and the consumer beyond what is specifically advertized about the product and/or stipulated in it's functional specifications. There should also not be ANY legal obligation to the government beyond compliance with specific certification requirements.

In other words... If a car catches fire and it is not marketed as a car that will not catch fire, the consumer has no legal resort and the manufacturer has no legal obligations. You are not entitled to ANY compensatory or punitive damages. Also, the NHTSA can demand that manufacturers certify vehicles to their precisely stated standards using their precisely stated tests. Once they certify a vehicle they have no legal power to then punish the manufacturer for any safety or environmental issues no matter how serious.

Frivolous lawsuits and/or overbearing government intrusions into private enterprises benefits no one but bureaucrats and lawyers. If you think that the absence of such will result in horrible and unsafe products, you are grossly underestimating the ability and discretion of consumers to choose products based on reputations and past performances. Just because no nobody can sue for millions of dollars if their relative die in car fire doesn't mean manufacturers will want to build cars that catch fire, because many consumers won't want to buy a car from a manufacturer known for making such cars!

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How about a reverse fine against NHTSA for being ignorant in doing their job from the begining back when this problem began.

Talk about a bunch of Morons covering their Arses in trying to make sure they still have a chair at the table of I kiss yours if you kiss mine stupid politics.

Which morons? You mean the ones who knew about the problem 10 years ago but decided that a $0.57 fix was cost prohibitive? I'm sure recalling millions of vehicles, fines,and bad press make it TOTALLY WORTH IT.

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How about a reverse fine against NHTSA for being ignorant in doing their job from the begining back when this problem began.

Talk about a bunch of Morons covering their Arses in trying to make sure they still have a chair at the table of I kiss yours if you kiss mine stupid politics.

Which morons? You mean the ones who knew about the problem 10 years ago but decided that a $0.57 fix was cost prohibitive? I'm sure recalling millions of vehicles, fines,and bad press make it TOTALLY WORTH IT.

They can start by pulling in the executives from that time and grilling them, confiscating their ill gotten gains and holding them accountable for making the right decision than to roast a woman who clearly cares more about quality and the customer than the idiots that made these decisions did back then.

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For starters, we have to stop banding about this $0.57 cost... That is only the cost for a new part going forward. That does not take into consideration the cost of retrofitting the cars already built or the huge potential stockpile of unused parts. I still question if this is such a big deal of a recall. Again, cars are inherently dangerous... and the act of driving one means that you have decided to accept that risk.

Should GM recall all the Dexcool screwed intakes? Flooding the crankcase with antifreeze also likely can cause a car to stall if extreme enough. Should GM recall all the break pads? They wear for God's sake! Then you can't stop! Oh, think of the children!

In any case, this law of unintended consequences here is that in the future GM will not study any potential issues. This recall would not have blown up in their face IF THEY HADN'T DONE THE BEAN COUNTER MATH! If questioning the quality of the parts becomes persona non grata at GM, there is going to be a lot of problem parts in the future. At some point, this bean counter math has to be accepted as part of the price of running a business with the intention of profit.

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All this nonsense stems from the fact that we do not have a legal system based strictly upon contractual obligations and specific legal compliance. There shouldn't be ANY legal obligation between a manufacturer and the consumer beyond what is specifically advertized about the product and/or stipulated in it's functional specifications. There should also not be ANY legal obligation to the government beyond compliance with specific certification requirements.

In other words... If a car catches fire and it is not marketed as a car that will not catch fire, the consumer has no legal resort and the manufacturer has no legal obligations. You are not entitled to ANY compensatory or punitive damages. Also, the NHTSA can demand that manufacturers certify vehicles to their precisely stated standards using their precisely stated tests. Once they certify a vehicle they have no legal power to then punish the manufacturer for any safety or environmental issues no matter how serious.

Frivolous lawsuits and/or overbearing government intrusions into private enterprises benefits no one but bureaucrats and lawyers. If you think that the absence of such will result in horrible and unsafe products, you are grossly underestimating the ability and discretion of consumers to choose products based on reputations and past performances. Just because no nobody can sue for millions of dollars if their relative die in car fire doesn't mean manufacturers will want to build cars that catch fire, because many consumers won't want to buy a car from a manufacturer known for making such cars!

Your post Rocks! :metal:

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This whole recall thing is pretty embarrassing. I would think they would want to answer everything, solve it and move on as quickly as possible.

I actually think it is worth grilling Mary Barra also, she still had high positions while all this happened, even if she wasn't at the very top. And who's to say she isn't like the previous CEO's that were looking to cash in on short term performance and leave. I think that is a big problem with GM over the past 20 years, they give these CEO's and upper management bonuses based on short term goals, so they do what makes money in the short term and don't care what happens 3-5 years later. Barra is the 6th CEO in the past 8 years, it isn't like these people care what happens 5 years later.

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