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‘Switchgate’: What Did GM Know and When Did GM Know It?

Revised timeline raises new concerns about long delay in launching GM recall.

by on Mar.13, 2014

There are new alegations that GM knew about the problem with its ignition switches as early as 2001.

This story has been revised to reflect General Motors’ official response to the letter sent to Mary Barra by safety advocates Clarence Ditlow and Joan Claybrook.

As new evidence continued to pour out about a break-in of Democrat campaign headquarters that came to be known as “Watergate,” one of the critical questions posed about then-President Richard Nixon was what did he know and when did he know it. Four decades later, a similar question is being asked about General Motors in what some are now calling “Switchgate.”

The “-gate” reference has become a tired cliché, applied in far too many instances of crisis and intrigue. But the fundamental concern is much the same as with the Watergate scandal: It now appears that General Motors may have had the first signs of trouble as early as 2001 with ignition switches it used in a wide range of its compact models now linked to a dozen deaths, 31 crashes and hundreds of complaint reports.

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That dates back to well before the first of the vehicles were put into production – and 13 years before GM announced it was recalling 1.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other models to make repairs to switches that could inadvertently turn from the On position to Off or ACC, in the process stalling out and leaving their airbags inoperable. (more…)

Yet Another GM Shake-Up: Stephens Named Global Tech Chief

Mary Barra chosen as new product czar.

by on Jan.20, 2011

Another reason to celebrate? Newly-promoted Tom Stephens shown here last week with the Car of the Year trophy for Chevy Volt.

In ballpark lingo, it helps to have a scorecard to keep up with the players, as General Motors continues to shake up its top management ranks.

Just days after ousting the head of OnStar and realigning its marketing management team, GM has appointed product development chief Tom Stephens its new Chief Technology Officer, a job that will have the veteran exec overseeing everything from in-car infotainment to advanced battery propulsion systems.

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To fill Stephens old role, GM is appointing its first-ever woman “car czar.”  As global vice president of product development, Mary Barra will oversee design, engineering, program management – and, critically, quality improvement efforts – for the automaker’s 11 worldwide brands.