General Motors has created the position of vice president of global vehicle safety in the wake of an expanded recall and investigations into how the automaker continued to sell small cars — 1.6 million are affected — with potentially defective ignition switches for more than a decade.
CEO Mary Barra appointed company veteran Jeff Boyer to the post Tuesday. His priority is to quickly identify and resolve product-safety issues. He will meet regularly with Barra and update GM's board on recalls.
Barra, who became chief executive in January, also has ordered an internal investigation into the company's failure to issue a recall over the ignition switches until last month. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and GM have come under heavy fire from lawmakers and safety advocates for not acting sooner. The Department of Justice and committees in the House and Senate have opened investigations.
In all, GM has recalled more than 3 million cars in the past month, including 1.5 million Monday.
In a video released Monday on GM's website, Barra apologized for the handling of the ignition switch recall. She said the supplier is boosting production of replacement parts. Dealers still won't be able to begin installing them until the second week of April.
"Something went wrong with our process in this instance and terrible things happened," Barra said in the video. "As a member of the GM family and as a mom with a family of my own, this really hits home for me. And we have apologized. But that is just one step in the journey to resolve this."
Twelve deaths and 31 crashes have been linked to the switches, while one independent engineering study suggested the number of fatalities might be much higher. A number of lawsuits have been filed.
GM said it will take a $300 million charge against its first-quarter earnings to reflect the cost of the ignition switch recall and also for three recalls announced Monday. None of the new recalls involve fatalities.
Contributing: Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Los Angeles Times