WASHINGTON (AP) - Members of a Senate panel are accusing General Motors of trying to cover up problems with an ignition switch that is now tied to 13 deaths.
At a hearing Wednesday, senators tried to get GM CEO Mary Barra to promise that anyone involved in such a cover-up would be punished. They also said GM should tell owners to stop driving all of the 2.6 million cars that are now being recalled for the faulty switch until they are repaired. GM is currently telling owners that the cars are fine to drive, as long as nothing is placed on the key chain.
As she did yesterday at a House hearing, Barra said many of the details Congress is looking for will come out in an internal GM investigation. And she tried to assure lawmakers that the company is now focused on safety and the consumers.
But many senators were not convinced. Democrat Barbara Boxer told her, "You don't know anything about anything." She said, "If this is the new GM leadership, it's pretty lacking."
Some of the questioning from senators focused on GM's approval of a replacement for the ignition switch in 2006 without changing the part number. Failing to change the number makes the part harder to track. And anyone investigating the cars wouldn't know why earlier switches were failing at a higher rate than later ones.
Several members of the panel implied that it was done intentionally by someone within the company, and that it could be a criminal violation.