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Ignition Switch Victim’s Family Re-files Suit Against GM

Suit alleges engineer lied under oath.

by on May.12, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra's congressional committee testimony may have led to the most recent lawsuit filed against the maker.

The family of perhaps the best-known of the victims General Motors’ faulty ignition switch, Brooke Melton, is refiling its civil liability suit against the automaker – after agreeing to a settlement earlier.

The filing alleges a GM representative lied about his knowledge of the problem. Lance Cooper and Jere Beasley, attorneys for Ken and Beth Melton, parents of Brooke Melton who died behind the wheel of a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, claim that GM CEO Mary Barra’s assertion that one of the engineers involved in the case may have lied under oath gives them the green light to refile their lawsuit. Barra’s claim came during her testimony in congressional hearings in early April.

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“The Meltons would not have settled their case if they had known of the perjury and concealment of critical evidence,” said Cooper, founding partner of the Cooper Firm in Marietta, Ga., in a statement. (more…)

GM, Ford Enjoy April Sales Jump in China

Ford sees biggest jump of the two with a 29% increase.

by on May.09, 2014

With vehicles like the Kuga, Ford China saw sales jump 29% in April.

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. increased their sales in China during April: GM climbed 6.3% to a record 278,263 units, while Ford’s sales increased by 29% to 96,829 units.

GM reported Shanghai GM and SAIC-GM-Wuling, as well as their Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Wuling brands, all reached new highs for April sales, GM said.

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Overall, GM’s sales for the first four months of 2014 to a record 1,197,375 units, an increase of 11% on an annual basis. This is the eighth consecutive year and the earliest ever that GM has sold more than a million vehicles in a calendar year in China. (more…)

Federal Safety Agency Won’t Force GM to Park Cars

Foxx tells Senators action isn’t necessary.

by on May.08, 2014

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told two U.S. Senators that his department would not force GM to issue a park-it-now order for 2.6 million recalled vehicles.

Despite the persistent efforts of two U.S. Senators, the federal government will not force General Motors to issue a “park-it-now” order for the 2.6 million small cars subject to recall for faulty ignition switches.

“Such an action is not necessary at this time,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in letters to Senators Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.). The two had asked last month for that warning.

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It marked the second time in two months that GM has dodged an order to park the vehicles immediately. A federal judge in Texas denied a request in April for an emergency order that GM tell owners to quit driving the cars, saying that only the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had the power to issue such a mandate. (more…)

GM Engineer Involved in Switch Recall Retires

Federico’s departure not related to investigations.

by on May.05, 2014

Jim Federico, executive director of global vehicle integration, retired today. He was involved in the investigation of the maker's faulty ignition switches.

One of the General Motors engineers tied to the faulty ignition switch involved in the recall 2.6 million vehicles and the deaths of 13 people retired today.

Jim Federico, 56, was executive director of global vehicle integration since September 2013, according to GM. Before that he was executive chief engineer for global subcompact cars and SUVs, and electric vehicles, and he had worked at GM for almost 36 years.

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GM spokesman Jim Cain several media outlets Federico’s retirement was voluntary and was not related to the recall. (more…)

Senators Ramping Up Pressure on GM

Letter asks feds to issue Park-It-Now advisory.

by on Apr.28, 2014

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, above, and Sen. Edward Markey sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx asking him to issue a "park-it-now" order for the 2.6 million vehicles recalled by GM.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey continue to beat the drum to force General Motors to ask owners of the 2.6 million small cars it recalled to stop driving them immediately.

Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Markey (D-Mass.) jointly penned a letter asking Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to force the automaker to make history and issue a “park-it-now advisory.”

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“Every day that unrepaired vehicles remain on the road increases the risk of more injuries, deaths, and damage,” the pair wrote. (more…)

UAW Likely to Get Seat on GM Board of Directors

Union’s health care trust nominates UAW VP Ashton.

by on Apr.28, 2014

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton was nominated to the General Motors' Board of Directors.

Change is in the air at General Motors as the company’s board will likely have a top official from the United Auto Workers for the first time in history. If elected, it will be the second union-influenced nominee on the board.

UAW Vice President Joe Ashton has been nominated to fill a seat on the company’s board of directors, GM said in a proxy statement for its 2014 annual meeting of stockholders with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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The UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, also known as the VEBA, put Ashton on the ballot. He is scheduled to give up his post as head of the UAW’s GM Department in June following the UAW constitutional convention. If elected, Ashton will begin his board term in August. (more…)

Critics Demand Barra Come Clean about Ignition Decisions

Open letter calls for full disclosure by GM’s CEO.

by on Apr.17, 2014

Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Automotive Safety, penned a letter with Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, demanding GM CEO Mary Barra be transparent about the decision-making process that produced the faulty ignition switches in its small cars.

General Motors executives knew much more about the design flaw in the ignition switch installed in its small cars during the past decade much earlier than GM has officially acknowledged, according to two long-standing critics of the auto industry’s efforts at automotive safety.

In an open letter to GM CEO Mary Barra, Joan Claybrook, president emeritus of Public Citizen, and Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, said it was time GM came clean about how and when the decisions were made to use the cheaper ignition switch and to replace them half a decade later without changing the part number or notifying federal regulators, which could have triggered a recall by GM.

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GM had no immediate comment on the Claybrook-Ditlow letter. (more…)

Senate Investigates Delphi’s Role in Ignition Switch Recall

CEO Rodney O’Neal gets a list of questions to answer.

by on Apr.16, 2014

Delphi CEO Rodney O'Neal has been given a list of questions from four U.S. Senators asking about the supplier's role in producing the faulty ignition switches for GM.

Like it or not, General Motors’ bitter fight with its principal supplier, Delphi Corp., will be examined by a panel of U.S. Senators concerned about what role the supplier might have played in the faulty switches tied to a recall of more than 2.6 million GM vehicles and 13 deaths.

In a letter made public this week, four different senators have asked Delphi Chief Executive Rodney O’Neal on Tuesday a series of questions about the auto supplier’s production of ignition switches.

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The switches were made in a Delphi plant in Matamoros, Mexico, at a time when GM and Delphi were at loggerheads over the cost of components. GM spun off Delphi in 1999 and immediately demanded price downs from Delphi executives, who resented and resisted GM’s push for concessions. (more…)

Barra Defends GM’s Efforts to Fix Recalled Cars

CEO fires two top executives while pushing for change.

by on Apr.15, 2014

Embattled GM CEO Mary Barra defended the automaker's handling of the ignition switch recall in a speech today in New York.

General Motors’ Chief Executive Mary Barra today defended the automaker’s response in the wake of the recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles and her own handling of a safety-related problem that had festered inside GM for more than a decade.

Barra told a gathering an industry conference in New York City that GM has already taken several steps to replace ignition lock cylinders in the 2.6 million vehicles recalled to repair ignition switches. Parts are arriving at dealers, who have been enormously helpful in addressing the problem, she noted.

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“Our actions in recent weeks show we at GM are committed to living our values. I am committed to seeing it through,” Barra said. “All of us understand what is at stake here.” (more…)

GM Investing $449 Mil to Prepare for New Battery Cars, Updated Volt

New Cadillac sedan may also be part of project.

by on Apr.09, 2014

General Motors announced that it will invest $449 million to upgrade manufacturing processes at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly and Brownstown Battery Assembly plants in preparation for the next generation of electric vehicles and advanced battery technologies.

Despite sluggish sales for its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, General Motors appears to be making an even bigger bet on the future of electric vehicles as it prepares to invest $449 million in a key battery-car assembly plant and the factory that produces the lithium-ion packs that will be used there.

Though GM did not provide specific details, the major investment plan is expected to help it upgrade the Volt and possibly add one or more additional battery-based vehicles at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. But the program is likely to include one or more non-electric model, such as a large sedan being developed by the Cadillac brand.

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“Today’s news will ensure that the next generation Chevy Volt continues and solidifies that position of leadership,” Gerald Johnson, GM’s vice president of North America manufacturing, said at an Automotive Press Association luncheon. “We want our customers to benefit from our investments in technology and to keep coming back to General Motors for their purchases.” (more…)