GM To Start Process Of Compensating Families Of Ignition Switch Victims In August

General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifying before Congress earlier this year. She will return Wednesday to update legislators on the company's internal investigation findings.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra testifying before Congress earlier this year. She will return Wednesday to update legislators on the company’s internal report findings.

General Motors has been promising for weeks that it will come up with some sort of compensation for people who bought any of the car company’s millions of vehicles with defective ignition switches. GM now says the plan is coming together, but don’t hold your breath waiting for specifics.

In a prepared statement [PDF] to be given to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce’s Oversight and Investigations Committee tomorrow, GM CEO Mary Barra says the company expects to begin processing victims’ claims by August 1.

However, Barra says the terms of the program have yet to be finalized by Ken Feinberg, who is overseeing the creation of a fund.

“Mr. Feinberg has full authority to establish eligibility criteria for victims and determine compensation levels. He has indicated he will share the final criteria with us by the end of the month.”

GM previously announced that the compensation program would cover approximately 1.6 million model-year 2003-2007 recalled vehicles manufactured with an ignition switch defect and approximately 1 million model year 2008-2011 recalled vehicles that may have been repaired with a recalled ignition switch.

Wednesday’s planned testimony is just the latest address Barra has given related to GM’s recall of millions of cars with ignition switch problems.

The recall, which was finally announced in February, has been linked to at least 13 fatalities. However, a recent reports speculate as many as 74 deaths could be tied to the issue.

General Motors has faced increased scrutiny, including a number of inquests into how long the company knew about the deadly issue before warning drivers. In May, the company was slapped with a $35 million fine for waiting 13 years to acknowledge the defect it knew about before the first recalled vehicles hit the road.

In April, Barra was unable to answer several of the Committee’s questions and promised to come back after the company’s internal investigation wrapped-up.

That investigation was completed earlier this month. Barra revealed the findings in a speech to GM employees, describing the report as “brutally tough” and “troubling” and confessing there was a fundamental failure to meet customers’ needs.

Additionally, certain employees involved with the issue exhibited a “pattern of incompetence and neglect” by failing to disclose relevant information and allowing the defect to go without a recall even after it was fixed in 2007. As a result, 15 employees were fired from the company.

However, the report claims there was no conspiracy or cover-up orchestrated by GM executives related to the delayed recall.

“I told our team as bluntly as I knew how, that the series of questionable actions and inactions uncovered in the investigation were inexcusable,” Barra will tell the Committee.

On Wednesday, Barra will also discuss GM’s actions related to restructuring the safety-decision making process, including the addition of 35 safety investigators – a move that has likely contributed to the company’s recent recall-a-polooza.

“We announced the creation of, and have implemented, a new Global Product Integrity organization that will enhance our overall safety and quality. And, we are taking an aggressive approach on recalls as we are brining greater rigor and discipline to our analysis and decision-making process regarding recalls and other potential safety-related matters. This is difficult, but it is absolutely the right thing to do. As I have told our employees, this is the new norm.”

In all, GM has issued 44 recalls this year totaling more than 20 million affected vehicles worldwide – 17.7 million of which are in the United States.

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