CEO Says GM Vehicle Recalls Almost Completed

By Siddharth Philip | September 12, 2014

General Motors Co. has “substantially completed” its vehicle recalls, Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said.

“We’re working hard to make sure that as new vehicles come out, they achieve even higher levels” of quality and safety, Barra told reporters in New Delhi today. “We’re very focused to being industry leaders.”

Barra, who has been before congressional panels four times over the recalls since becoming the first female CEO of a global automaker in January, reiterated the company’s commitment to putting the consumer first. The Detroit-based automaker, which has sought broadened immunity from lawsuits over fallen car values following its recall of almost 29 million cars, won’t hesitate to call back more vehicles if need be, the 52-year-old CEO said.

“We’ve really benchmarked externally the aerospace industry, the nuclear industry, the industries that require a true zero-defect mentality,” Barra said. “But if at any point of time, we learn there’s an issue, we’re going to put the customer in the center, and we’re going to take care of the issue and if that means a recall, we’ll do a recall.”

GM has set aside at least $400 million to pay victims of the 2.59 million compact cars with a potentially faulty ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths, the company said in July. The one-time charge, which it said may rise to $600 million, recall costs and other charges led to the automaker posting a second-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates.

Lawyers for GM’s customers are jostling to lead lawsuits over the faulty ignition switches.

Car owners suing over the lost value of recalled vehicles have yet to learn whether they can claim $10 billion, a few hundred thousand dollars, or nothing. That number will be decided later by the bankruptcy judge who presided over GM’s bailout in 2009.

India Restructuring

GM, which entered India in 1994, has failed to challenge market leaders Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and Hyundai Motor Co. and consistently lost market share in recent years. Cars often priced above rivals’ competing offerings and inadequate after- sales service networks are among reasons analysts cite for GM’s and U.S. peer Ford Motor Co.’s lack of progress in Asia’s third- biggest automobile market.

GM’s share of passenger vehicles sold in India slid to 3.2 percent in the 12 months ended March, from 3.3 percent a year earlier, according to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers’ data. That was a fourth straight annual drop.

The automaker is engaged in a significant restructuring of its operations in India, GM’s International Operations President Stefan Jacoby said today, without elaborating. GM has two factories in India including one in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

“The Indian market is very important as many predict it will be the world’s third biggest market, after China and the U.S., by the 2020s,” Barra said. “As we move forward we don’t just want to be a competitor in the segment, we want to lead.”

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