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General Motors ordered a half-million replacement ignition switches to fix Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars almost two months before it officially alerted federal safety regulators to the problem, according to emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The company’s recall of about 2.5 million vehicles is centered around a switch issue, which is said to have caused 30 deaths.
The emails were reportedly sent in mid-December 2013 between a GM contract worker and GM’s ignition-switch supplier, Delphi Automotive PLC, indicating that the automaker placed a Dec. 18 order for 500,000 replacement switches, a day after its senior executives held a meeting. GM announced its recall in February 2014.
“This is simply mind-blowing in its raw evilness,” said Bob Hilliard, lead counsel for the personal injury and wrongful death plaintiffs in the Federal Multi District Litigation against General Motors. “GM should have notified its customers immediately to take all weight off of their keychains. By the time GM actually ordered these parts, it had to have already spent months making the decision to place the order,” Hilliard said in a statement.
So far, 61 claims have been deemed eligible for compensation, including 30 deaths and 31 injuries. A federal judge in Manhattan has set Jan. 11, 2016, for the first trial in consolidated litigation against General Motors over a series of safety issues, including a faulty ignition switch.
GM has faced serious criticism for waiting 11 years to begin recalling millions of cars with ignition-switch problems that have been linked to fatalities. The switch in question can slip out of position, stalling the vehicle and disabling air bags. The defect led to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles earlier this year. But even if customers could have followed handling instructions effectively, that wouldn’t have solved the actual problem. Eventually the ignition switches would have slipped out of position after consistent and normal, use.
Unfortunately, General Motors seems to constantly face criticism for taking too long to issue a recall. In fact, they have waiting eleven years to start issuing recalls for millions of cars with potential ignition switch defects which have also been linked to fatalities.
Representatives for GM and Delphi Automotive did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the matter.