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Mary Barra And GM’s Recall Mess

GM’s CEO in the hot seat on Capitol Hill over messy recalls and maybe a cover up. We’ll look at what happened in the so-called “New Detroit.” Plus, a look at popular electric car company Tesla Motors.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation.  (AP)

General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. (AP)

We hear about the “new GM” and we want to believe it.  Then comes a story roaring up that makes you wonder.  GM recalling 2.6 million cars in the last few weeks after at least 13 deaths and a lot of accidents from a defective ignition switch.  A defect that GM knew about 13 years ago.  This week, GM’s new CEO Mary Barra in the hot seat in Congressional hearings.  Trying to explain why GM wouldn’t make a ninety-cent change that might have saved those lives.  The hot seat all the hotter because the public bailed out GM.  This hour On Point:  the GM recall mess, the “new GM” and CEO Mary Barra.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Shepardson, Washington, D.C. bureau chief for the Detroit News. (@davidshepardson)

Nick Bunkley, enterprise reporter for Automotive News. (@nickbunkley)

Micheline Maynard, visiting professor of business journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contributor to Forbes. Author of “The End of Detroit: How The Big Three Lost Their Grip on the American Car Market.” (@MickiMaynard)

From Tom’s Reading List

Detroit News: These words to haunt GM: ‘Acceptable business case’ — “None of it is likely to wipe a stain of callous indifference from a sprawling GM technical apparatus that approved a substandard ignition switch for its small-car program only to approve a second alleged “fix” that also failed to meet specifications set by GM itself — a conundrum that Barra, an automotive engineer, struggled to explain to the committee.

The Guardian: GM sold us on a comeback. Don’t buy a CEO’s apology – buy cars that are safe — “It seems foolish that any of GM’s fairy tale was believable to anyone. After the recalls and the estimates of driver deaths, all of that talk – of the reborn American automaker, of bets paid and dollars won – seems like a hollow spectacle. And it has to make us wonder: how much were US taxpayers and the government complicit in sustaining a company that researchers had already suggested was unable to compete in the modern automotive industry?”

Automotive News: The early warnings that GM missed — “For years, as drivers complained that their Cobalts and Ions were stalling repeatedly, GM treated it as a matter of customer satisfaction, not safety. Documents show that the company either didn’t grasp the significance of the problem or didn’t consider it worthy of resources.”

The Growth And Market Share Of Tesla Motors

Cory Johnson, co-anchor and editor at large of Bloomberg TV’s Bloomberg West. (@CoryTV)

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Senate OKs compromise to allow 3 Tesla Motors stores in Ohio — ” Dealers said Tesla shouldn’t have been granted a license because state rules require an agreement between franchise dealers and manufacturers. But Tesla does not sell through franchised dealerships. Customers can visit small showrooms to look at cars, ask questions and take test drives, but they order and purchase vehicles online.”

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