The head of General Motors faced tough questions Tuesday from a House subcommittee looking into why the car company waited more than a decade to address faulty ignition switches. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report for NY1.
Before a horde of cameras and a room full of skeptical lawmakers, General Motors CEO Mary Barra apologized Tuesday for faulty ignition switches that are responsible for the deaths of at least 13 people.
For lawmakers, that was not enough. They wanted answers. But throughout the hearing, they were left scratching their heads, as Barra dodged questions about when GM first learned of the potentially deadly problem and why it took so long to address it.
Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado: GM knew about the defect in the ignition switches as far back as 2001, 13 years before the recall, correct?
Barra: The investigation will tell us that.
So far, GM has recalled more than 2.5 million Chevy Cobalts and other small models because of poorly designed ignition switches that can suddenly power off, disabling the airbags.
Government regulators, under fire as well, blamed GM for not providing them with the information needed to identify the defect.
Meanwhile, Barra met with victims' families Monday, and on Tuesday, those families gathered in front of the Capitol.
Cherie Sharkey's 21-year-old son died in 2012, just days after he purchased a used 2006 Chevy Cobalt.
"I knew from the day I went to the accident, something happened. I knew it," Sharkey said.
The families of victims are looking for compensation, and in a sign that GM might provide it, the company announced it has hired Ken Feinberg, who oversaw the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund.
"We do understand that we have civic responsibilities as well as legal responsibilities," Barra said.
GM faces more lawmakers on Wednesday, when a Senate panel takes up the issue. It's unlikely, however, that that hearing will shed more light on what went wrong over the last decade.