The congressional investigation into General Motors continues to make headlines after more information concerning GM’s recent recall comes to light. According to a memo released yesterday, GM officials approved vehicle ignition switches that failed to meet its specifications.
The House of Representatives Energy and Commerce memo relies on testimony from parts supplier Delphi Automotive. The faulty ignition switches can cause cars to shut off unexpectedly and have been linked to at least 13 deaths.
Reuters News Reports that the House committee memo was released ahead of testimony from General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who will appear before Congress on Tuesday. It is widely expected that officials will ask Barra why GM failed to issue its recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier.
Evidence indicates that GM was aware of safety issues with its vehicles up to a decade before its recall. Ignition switches in Chevy Cobalts and other vehicles can unintentionally shut off engines and disable brakes, power steering and airbags if they are jostled. Heavy key chains can also cause a problem in some vehicles.
GM engineers were tackling the ignition switch problem as early as 2004 according to the New York Daily News. They determined that fixing the problem was too complicated and costly.
“Engineers considered increasing or changing the ignition switch ‘torque effort,’ but were advised by the ignition switch engineer that it is ‘close to impossible to modify the present ignition switch’ as the switch is ‘very fragile and doing any further changes will lead to mechanical and/or electrical problems,'” the memo states.
Officials from the NHTSA are also under scrutiny. Fox News reports that the agency considered whether GM cars had manufacturing defects in 2007 and 2010, but failed to take any action.