Για την 1η Απριλίου 2014 ορίστηκε η ακρόαση για το θέμα της General Motors από την US House of Energy and Commerce Committee, κατά τη διάρκεια της οποίας θα καταθέσουν τόσο η CEO της GM, Mary Barra, όσο και ο επικεφαλής της NHTSA, David Friedman.

Η κατάθεση τους είναι κρίσιμη για την κατανόηση του τι ήξεραν η εταιρία και η NHTSA για τα προβλήματα ασφαλείας, πότε το ήξεραν και τι έγινε γι’ αυτό.

Αναφέρει η επίσημη δήλωση. Παραδέχεται το ότι τα προβλήματα που οδήγησαν στην ανάκληση εμφανίστηκαν πριν ξεκινήσουν οι θητείες των δύο, αλλά ισχυρίζεται πως αυτοί  είναι τα καλύτερα άτομα για να εξηγήσουν τι πήγε στραβά.

Τα προβλήματα για την GM όμως δεν σταματούν εκεί. Από την ώρα που έγινε γνωστή η μεγάλη και σοβαρή ανάκληση πριν μερικές εβδομάδες, φαίνεται πως δεν υπάρχει σταματημός. Τώρα, η General Motors ανακαλεί μερικά μοντέλα Buick, Chevrolet και GMC για να ελέγξει και να αντικαταστήσει ένα καλώδιο στο αυτόματο κιβώτιο. Αφορά μόνο μοντέλα του 2014 με αυτόματο κιβώτιο και από ότι μαθαίνουμε, η ανάκληση επηρεάζει 355 οχήματα. Επιπλέον, το Saturn Ion μάλλον θα αποτελέσει το επίκεντρο μίας ακόμα ανάκλησης αφού η NHTSA έλαβε 846 παράπονα σχετικά με ένα πρόβλημα που προκαλεί απώλεια της υποβοήθησης του συστήματος διεύθυνσης. Η General Motors είχε 3.489 αναφορές για αυτό το πρόβλημα από αυτές, ξεχωρίζουν 16 ατυχήματα και 2 τραυματισμοί. Η NHTSA ερευνά αυτό το πρόβλημα από τον Σεπτέμβριο του 2011 αλλά ακόμα δεν έχει οριστεί ανάκληση παρότι υπάρχουν έντονες πιέσεις για κάτι τέτοιο. Να θυμίσουμε φυσικά πως το Saturn Ion σχετίζεται με την ανάκληση που έχει κλέψει τα φώτα της δημοσιότητας τον τελευταίο καιρό.

[Πηγή: NHTSA, US House of Energy and Commerce Committee]

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GM CEO Mary Barra and Lead Federal Vehicle Safety Official Expected to Testify April 1

March 20, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today announced that General Motors Company CEO Mary Barra will testify at an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. The committee has also invited National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Administrator David Friedman to testify on the same day.

“We look forward to hearing from both Mary Barra and Administrator Friedman. Their testimony is critical to understanding what the company and NHTSA knew about the safety problems, when they knew it, and what was done about it,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA). “The problems originated long before Barra and Friedman took the helms of their respective organizations, but their actions and input now, as our investigation proceeds, will be essential to getting answers about what went wrong. We want to know if this tragedy could have been prevented and what can be done to ensure the loss of life due to safety failures like this don’t happen again.”

“I look forward to this hearing so we can find out from GM and NHTSA how this happened and why these dangerous vehicles were not fixed in a timely fashion,” said full committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO).

Additional hearing details, the Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.

BACKGROUND: The committee has opened a bipartisan investigation into the General Motors Company’s (GM) and NHTSA’s response to consumer complaints related to stalling, airbag non-deployment, and ignition switch problems. GM announced a recall in February covering over 1.6 million vehicles worldwide to correct the problems, but reports indicate drivers first complained of the safety defects over 10 years ago. The company has stated that the defects may have been linked to 31 frontal crashes and a dozen fatalities. Committee staff has now been briefed by both NHTSA and GM on the recalls, and currently awaits production of the documents and information requested last week.

Date Investigation Opened: SEP 29, 2011
Date Investigation Closed: Open

NHTSA Action Number: EA11014

Component(s): STEERING

All Products Associated with this Investigation Vehicle Make Model Model Year(s)
SATURN ION 2004-2007
Manufacturer: General Motors LLC

ODI has received 846 complaints and GM identified 3,489 reports alleging sudden loss of power steering assist in model year (MY) 2004 through 2007 Saturn Ion vehicles manufactured and sold by General Motors Corporation (GM). Sixteen of these complaints alleged that the EPS warning lamp had illuminated before or during the loss of steering assist and the increased steering effort contributed to a crash. Two of the GM crash claims indicated that the driver was injured in the crash.

In a previous Preliminary Evaluation PE10-005, ODI investigated the sudden loss of power steering assist in MY 2005 through 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles. In May 2011, in response to an ODI information request letter for RQ10-004, GM provided ODI with complaint, warranty and EPS system information related to EPS loss of assist for the Saturn ION and peer vehicles Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. In that response, GM indicated that the EPS system used in the subject vehicles was the same as that used in the MY2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. In March 2010, GM recalled approximately 1.05 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles (NHTSA recall No. 10V-073) to correct a defect with the EPS assist motor. The defect identified was described as a buildup of brush debris mixed with oily material on the EPS electric motor armature which causes the motor to stop functioning; the same problem identified in the current subject vehicles. ODI has duplicated this failure in both a Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn ION previously tested at the Vehicle Research and Test Center (VRTC).

In the defect notification letter for the previously recalled Cobalt and G5 vehicles, GM stated that the vehicles may experience a sudden loss of assist that could occur at any time while driving and that if power steering was lost the vehicle would revert to manual steering mode and would require increased steering effort from the driver. ODI believes that, depending on driving circumstances this increase in steering effort could result in some loss of control and a crash.

An engineering analysis has been opened to further assess the frequency, scope and safety consequences of a sudden loss of steering assist in the subject vehicles.