General Motors ordered more than 500,000 replacement ignition switches six weeks before it publicly announced its infamous recall campaign.
News of the product order emerged amid 36 pages of e-mail that parts supplier Delphi disclosed. The way GM handled its ignition switch recall is currently under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department. Bob Hilliard, lead attorney for the personal injury and wrongful death plaintiffs against GM said at least 85 crashes and one death occurred between GM ordering the switches and announcing its recall.
In the e-mail sent on December 18, GM contractor Sarah Missentzis wrote to Delphi asking for 500,000 of the switches in an “urgent field action” for GM customers. General Motors didn’t announce its recall until February, when it called back 700,000 vehicles in an initial campaign that eventually expanded to affect 2.6 million.
Currently the defective switches are credited with 32 deaths and 31 injuries, but that number is likely to continue rising as the uncapped compensation fund GM announced in earlier this year continues to review submitted claims.
First reported by the Wall Street Journal, news of the e-mail exchange with Delphi prompted GM to issue an official response. In it, the company said “These emails are further confirmation that our system needed reform, and we have done so. We have reorganized our entire safety investigation and decision process and have more investigators, move issues more quickly and make decisions with better data.”
The investigation and report that former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas conducted for GM didn’t mention the parts order placed in December.
[Source: the Detroit News]