General Motors Ignition Switch Recall Investigation
On March 11, 2014, the Committee on Energy and Commerce began its investigation into the General Motors Company ignition switch recall by requesting information from General Motors and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA). Below is Committee activity thus far, updated as the investigation continues.
To analyze the extent to which GM may have been aware of problems with these vehicles and whether the company appropriately reported information to federal authorities, the minority staff analyzed the company’s warranty claims database for the recalled vehicles. The staff analysis looked for cases where customers or GM technicians reported problems with vehicles that were unexpectedly stalling or turning off. The analysis identified 133 cases–dating from June 2003 through June 2012–of consumers raising concerns directly to GM dealers about vehicles that were unexpectedly stalling or turning off when going over bumps or when the key was bumped. In many of these warranty claims, the comments from consumers and GM technicians indicate that they had identified the ignition switch as the likely cause of the problem.
On April 1, 2014, Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman and eight Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats introduced H.R. 4364, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2014. The legislation will increase transparency and accountability for auto manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), raise NHTSA funding, and increase the amount of maximum civil penalties for violations of federal safety standards. Ranking Member Waxman and other other members introduced this legislation after the CEO of General Motors testified before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about faulty ignition switches in GM vehicles that have been linked to numerous accident-related fatalities.
On September 18, 2014, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Ranking Member of the Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, joined by other Democratic Committee members, introduced the Vehicle Safety Improvement Act (VSIA). This bill builds on builds on H.R. 4364, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2014, by strengthening transparency and oversight, providing NHTSA with additional and enhanced safety authorities, and establishing several new protections for consumers.