TIME Transportation

Amount GM Saved Per Car By Using Lethal Ignition Switch: About $1

GM CEO Barra is sworn in prior to testifying before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington
Kevin Lamarque - Reuters General Motors (GM) Chief Executive Mary Barra (C) told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that GM valued their customer's safety in Washington April 1, 2014.

Newly disclosed emails show GM refused to initiate a recall in 2005 because the car giant didn't want to replace a cheap but faulty part that led to at least 13 deaths over nine years. CEO Mary Barra told lawmakers on Tuesday the failure to act was "unacceptable"

General Motors reportedly refused to replace a faulty ignition switch that would have cost the company less than one dollar per car, Reuters reports.

The defective switch is believed to have been responsible for at least 13 deaths in the past nine years. Reuters based its report on a series of emails from 2005 it obtained, claiming “the change would have cost an extra 90 cents per unit and additional tooling costs of $400,000.”

On Tuesday, lawmakers grilled General Motors CEO Mary Barra over the company’s failure to recall 2.6 million vehicles after GM discovered the switch was defective. Barra called the company’s failure to act in 2005 “unacceptable,” and promised that the company, with her at the helm, had ditched the cost-cutting ways of the past and was now dedicated to providing its customers with safer cars.

“Today, if there is a safety issue, we take action,” said Barra. “If we know there is a defect, we do not look at the cost associated with it, we look at the speed at which we can fix the issue.”


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