No Joke: GM CEO Barra Gets Grilled by House on April Fools’ Day

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While it might have been a joyous April Fools’ Day for many, filled with mirth and (hopefully harmless) shenanigans, General Motors (NYSE:GM) CEO Mary Barra didn’t have such an enjoyable time, as she spent a good portion of Tuesday sitting before a House subcommittee to testify about why it took GM the better part of a decade to get around to initiating a recall while the resulting fatalities ticked into the mid-teens.

Perhaps making matters worse is that the whole mess — and a slew of other unrelated recalls from the last couple of months — all fell into Barra’s lap when she took the wheel at General Motors in January, replacing Dan Akerson as CEO. She now has to prove that the new GM, which emerged as a different company under its bailout conditions, is different than the old, bureaucratic snarl that defined the old company. Much of that perception is riding on how she handles the situation that GM is in now.

In her testimony, Barra said that she found the employee statements that cost considerations may have discouraged the prompt replacement of faulty ignition switches ”disturbing,” and in efforts to reconcile with the families affected by the recall, General Motors has deployed the services of Kenneth Feinberg, a consultant, to determine possible responses to families of those injured or killed in crashes involving the recalled cars.

GM’s recall now stands at 2.6 million vehicles, having been expanded twice since its initial launch in January. In the affected vehicles, the ignition switches can shut off the power to the car during operation and render the airbags, power steering, and power brakes useless.

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