First, there was the news that General Motors was recalling nearly 800,000 vehicles
manufactured up to 10 years ago over faulty ignitions. Then the news
came that the number of affected vehicles was more like 1.4 million. And reports said that may not have included all the cars with the problem
Now, the U.S. Justice Department has stepped in. It’s in the early stages of a criminal investigation of GM’s handling of the recall of certain models of the Chevrolet Cobalt sedan and other cars that had ignition problems. The New York Times
explained the scope of the investigation:
The preliminary inquiry by federal prosecutors in New York is focused on whether G.M., the nation’s largest automaker, failed to comply with laws requiring timely disclosure of vehicle defects. The prosecutors, one of the people said, are questioning whether G.M. misled federal regulators about the extent of the problems.
report states that a GM spokesman declined to comment about the news of the investigation.
Mary Barra, who took over as GM’s chief executive officer in January, hasn’t granted any interviews about the recall, according to a Reuters report
Eric Schiffer, chairman of ReputationManagementConsultants.com
, told PR Daily
that GM and Barra should be speaking up. "Mary Barra can clear this up with a short statement, but she has chosen to stay silent," he says.
What Barra and GM have done is communicate that the company is undergoing an internal investigation to find out why nothing was done about the ignition issue when GM engineers discovered it a decade ago. According to The Wall Street Journal
, GM has also hired Chicago attorney Anton Valukas, “the Chicago lawyer who led the court-ordered investigation of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, as it tries to persuade consumers, regulators, and lawmakers that it is responding rapidly.”
A U.S. House committee has also announced its intent to investigate
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The ignition problem causes car components, including the airbags, to sometimes inadvertently be turned off. It’s been linked to 31 accidents and 13 deaths.
What do you think, PR Daily
readers? Is GM right in its reticence?