Transcript: General Motors CEO Mary Barra’s testimony on GM’s ignition switch recall

Partial transcript of testimony of Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, on “Examining the GM Recall and NHTSA’s Defect Investigation Process”. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance’s hearing was held on April 2, 2014:

Thank you very much. My name is Mary Barra, and I’m the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today.

More than a decade, GM embarked on a small cor program and sitting here today I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program. But I can tell you we will find out.

This is an extraordinary situation. It involves vehicles we no longer make. But it came to light on my watch, so it’s my responsibility to resolve it.

When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators, and with our customers.

While I can’t turn back the clock, as soon as I learned the problem, we acted without hesitation. We told the world that we had a problem that needed to be fixed. We did so because whatever mistakes were made in the past we will not shirk from our responsibilities now and in the future. Today’s GM will do the right thing.

This begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who’s been affected by this recall, especially to the families and friends of those who lost lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry, and the men and women of General Motors are deeply sorry.

I’ve asked former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas to conduct a thorough and unimpeded investigation of the actions of General Motors, and I’ve received updates from him and he tells me his work is well along.

He has the free reign to go where the facts take him regardless of outcome. The facts will be the facts.

Once they are in, my leadership team and I will do what’s necessary to assure this doesn’t happen again. We will hold ourselves accountable.

However, I want to stress we are not waiting for his results to make changes.

I’ve named a new vice president of global vehicle safety, which is a first for General Motors. Jeff Boyer’s top priority is to quickly identify and resolve any and all product safety issues.

He is not taking on this task alone. I stand with him. My senior management team stands with him. And we welcome input from outside GM – from you, from NTSHA, from our customers, our dealers, and our current and former employees.

I have asked everyone at our team to keep stressing the system at GM and work with one thing in mind – our customers and their safety are at the center of everything we do.

Our customers who have been affected by this recall are getting our full and undivided attention. We’ve empowered our dealers to take extraordinary measures to treat each case specifically.

If people do not want to drive a recalled vehicle before it is repaired, dealers can provide a loaner or a rental free of charge. To date, we’ve provided nearly 13,000 loaner vehicles.

Our suppliers are manufacturing new replacement parts for the vehicles that are no longer in production. We’ve commissioned two lines and asked for a third and those parts will start being delivered to dealers next week.

These measures are only the first in making things right in rebuilding the trust with our customers.

I would like this committee to know that all of our GM employees and I are determined to set a new standard. I’m encouraged to say that everyone at GM up to and including our board of directors supports this.

As a second generation General Motors employee, I’m here as the CEO. But I’m also here representing the men and women who are part of today’s GM and I can tell you they are dedicated to putting the highest quality and safest vehicles on the road.

In addition, I have announced yesterday that we have retained Kenneth Feinberg as a consultant to help us evaluate the situation and recommend the best path forward.

I’m sure this committee knows Mr. Feinberg is highly qualified, is very experienced in the handling of matters such as this, having led the compensation efforts involved in 9/11, the BP oil spill, and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Mr. Feinberg brings expertise and objectivity to this effort.

As I have said, I consider this to be an extraordinary event and we are responding to it in an extraordinary way.

As I see it, GM has both civic responsibilities and legal responsibilities and we are thinking through exactly what those responsibilities are and how to balance them appropriately. Bringing Mr. Feinberg on is the first step.

I would now be happy to answer your questions.


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