GM will be paying a record-setting $35 million fine over its completely botched decade-long ignition-switch defect and subsequent recall, the Department of Transportation announced today.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded its investigation into the GM recall this week. Problems with the ignition switch were first identified in 2001, but a full recall on cars using the defective part was not issued until 2014, by which point at least 13 people had died. The subsequent timeline and investigations highlighted not only internal problems with GM, but also brought to light holes in the safety regulation process.
In addition to the $35 million penalty, the NHTSA has ordered GM to make “significant and wide-ranging internal changes to its review of safety-related issues,” and to submit to increased oversight from the agency. If GM does not fully comply, everything they agreed to today is “immediately enforceable” in federal court.
GM has also agreed to “provide NHTSA with full access to the results of GM’s internal investigation into this recall, to take steps to ensure its employees report safety-related concerns to management, and to speed up the process for GM to decide whether to recall vehicles.”
The fine is the highest ever paid as a result of violations stemming from a recall, the NHTSA said in a press release. GM will also be paying additional, much smaller fines for not responding to the agency’s requests for documentation in a timely manner.
In a statement, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx made it clear that although the $35 million number is a record high, he’d be happy for it to be even higher: “While we will continue to aggressively monitor GM’s efforts in this case, we also urge Congress to support our GROW AMERICA Act, which would increase the penalties we could levy in cases like this from $35 million to $300 million, sending an even stronger message that delays will not be tolerated.”
GM has also been under investigation on several other fronts in relation to the epically botched recall since the start of the year. The company is also facing a number of lawsuits from owners and drivers of the affected cars.