GM CEO Mary Barra Promises '100 Percent End of Line Testing'

Apr 01, 2014 03:58 PM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra is testifying before Congress during a federal review of the automaker in the wake of 13 deaths related to a massive small car recall.

Public hearings in the investigation launched on Tuesday, reported. A live stream of the hearing and an updating blog are available from The Wall Street Journal's .

GM has turned over a new leaf when it comes to focusing on the consumer, Barra said in the hearing.

When asked by Rep. Henry Waxman how customers can know that new switches meet specifications, Barra said, "We will do 100 percent end of line testing," according to the MarketWatch report.

Subcommittee chairman Tim Murphy asked the CEO how GM would "balance cost and safety." Barra countered that the carmaker will instead focus on how quickly the issue can be fixed.

"We've moved to a ... customer culture," she said.

A newcomer to GM, Barra was named CEO in December and has apparently inherited a mess around 10 years in the making.

In her official to the house committee, Barra said, "More than a decade ago, GM embarked on a small car program. Sitting here today, I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will find out. When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators, and with our customers."

The Justice Department recently opened the GM investigation to see if the carmaker broke any laws in its slow response to ignition switch issues that have been connected to at least 31 crashes and 13 deaths.

GM has recalled 2.6 million cars for ignition switches that could turn off while the car was still moving. The recall comprises the 2005-'07 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-'07 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice, 2007 Pontiac G5 and Saturn Sky and 2003-'07 Saturn Ion.

Both GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration bypassed opportunities to fix the issue that has since been related to 13 deaths,  reported on Monday.

A solution for the vehicle's ignition switch failure was canceled in 2005 by the automaker, while the NHTSA chose not to open a formal investigation into the defect in 2007.

At the time, federal officials opted out of the probe despite evidence that included four fatal crashes, 29 complaints and 14 other reports showing the defect stopped air bags from deploying properly, revealed a  from a House subcommittee on Sunday,  reported.

Also Tuesday, GM released a about March sales, showing a 4 percent increase year-over-year for total sales and a rise of 7 percent for retail sales.

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