Alan Batey, president of General Motors North America, said Tuesday that the automaker’s nearly decade-long investigation of a defect for which it is now recalling 1.4 million vehicles – and which is related to 13 deaths — “was not as robust as it should have been.” The admission came as the automaker tried to explain to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration why it took so long to recall the vehicles.
That explanation came in a chronological report from the automaker posted Tuesday on the safety agency’s website. Automakers are required to provide such a timeline with every recall.
“We will take an unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward,” Mr. Batey said in a statement.
G.M.’s chronological report shows how, starting in 2005, the automaker was aware that it had a problem that could cause the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt’s engine to be accidentally switched off. The report concluded that deaths might have been caused by the failure of air bags, which would have been disabled with the ignition in the off position, to deploy in a frontal crash. But for years, the automaker continued its investigation, saying it was having trouble finding the cause.