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Echo Press Editorial: GM’s lack of recall harms its reputation and goodwill

General Motors has harmed its reputation and goodwill because of its failure over 10 years to recall small vehicles with a faulty ignition switch.

This recall that began in February over a 57-cent part has now grown to 2.6 million vehicles worldwide.

Since 2005, GM elected not to start a recall to replace the faulty 57-cent part in small vehicles because of recall costs and the lack of “an acceptable business case” for doing so. To make matters worse, GM continued to install the faulty ignition that did not meet company specifications in small GM vehicles.

During that time, 13 individuals died as a result of accidents related to the faulty ignition switch.

Prior to GM’s bankruptcy in 2009, the company certainly was operating under a cost culture. New GM CEO Mary Barra said in congressional testimony Tuesday that GM is now operating in a “customer culture.”

That statement brings little comfort to the 13 families who lost loved ones or the additional families whose loved ones were injured.

This recall disaster is also disconcerting for all GM dealers in West Central Minnesota and across the nation. Poor corporate decision-making in this ignition switch episode could impact these local businesses as well.

CEO Barra stated Tuesday that “GM will do the right thing.” And then she apologized to everyone impacted by this recall, “especially those families and friends [of those] who lost their lives or were injured.”

GM has also created a new vice president of global vehicle safety with all safety information reporting to this position. The company has also hired a victim compensation consultant to handle victims’ cases. And the company is starting repairs of vehicles with the faulty ignition switch next week.

This is all a good start, but GM has a long way to go to rebuild its reputation and customer and dealer goodwill after this recall disaster.

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This editorial was written by the editorial board of the West Central Tribune in Willmar, a Forum Communication Company newspaper.