GM Knew of Ignition Switch Problem, Declined to Spend 90 Cents to Fix Them, at Least 124 Died as Result

(That’s the invisible hand working those externalities for you.)

from Bloomberg Business

Zachary Stevens was a teenager headed to bible study when his Saturn Sky shot across a Texas highway into a pickup and killed the driver. Ruben Vazquez, 20, died after a drunk slammed into his stalled Chevy Cobalt on a California freeway. James Yingling III couldn’t brake or steer his Saturn Ion away from a culvert in Pennsylvania. He lingered for 17 days before dying at 35.

These are among the claims facing General Motors Co. this year, the first of hundreds demanding that GM pay for the deaths of loved ones or injuries ranging from broken bones to paralysis. The raft of trials, scattered across the country, begins Monday in federal court in Manhattan.

Engineers at America’s biggest automaker, which got a $50 billion government bailout in the financial crisis, knew of a flawed ignition switch but rejected a fix that would have cost 90 cents apiece, according to evidence provided to lawmakers. The switch could be jarred into the “accessory” position, shutting off the engine, disabling power steering and brakes and preventing air bags from deploying. The faulty switches are linked to the deaths of at least 124 people, many of them in entry-level cars marketed to young drivers — a graduation gift from proud parents, a starter car for college — least prepared to react to a sudden loss of power on the road.

[read more here]

3 Responses

  1. Kill 124 people and get fined around $900 million (GM) or put a software hack that fools the EPA’s emission test and kills nobody (VW) possible $18 billion fine. Not saying you can put a price on human life but something seems off here.

  2. “You like your job, don’t you—the lifestyle it affords you, and your family!” menaced the manager.

    The engineer got up and walked out. It was the continuous cheapening of the product that disturbed him, that had him there.

    “What are you doing home?” his wife wanted to know.
    “I quit.
    “Quit!?… “

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