June 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm

NHTSA ends daily $7,000 GM fines

Washington— General Motors Co. is in compliance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s request for documents in connection with the government’s investigation into the automaker’s recall of 2.6 million vehicles linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes, and the automaker is no longer racking up $7,000 per day in fines.

GM will pay more than $420,000 in cumulative fines for not meeting NHTSA’s April 3 deadline to answer 107 detailed questions about its recall. That’s in addition to a $35 million fine that GM agreed to pay May 16 for delaying the defective ignition switch recall for a decade.

On April 4, NHTSA began fining GM $7,000 a day for failing to fully answer questions about the automaker’s ignition switch recall. A Transportation Department spokeswoman said the fines ended June 5, when GM turned over a 315-page internal report from Jenner & Block attorney Anton Valukas into the ignition switch crisis at GM.

As a result of that investigation, GM CEO Mary Barra last week said she had fired 15 and disciplined five for their roles in the crisis.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Tuesday that GM has turned over all the documents NHTSA had sought.

“We have what we asked for,” Foxx told The Detroit News. “The (GM) report is consistent with what we said a few weeks ago, which is there are some culture issues.” He said the ignition switch problems were “entirely preventable.”

GM must pay the $35 million fine by Friday. The $420,000 fine is due by July 4.

GM spokesman Greg Martin said Tuesday the automaker will “pay under the terms of the consent order.”

Foxx said he thinks the incident has impacted the overall U.S. auto industry.

“We expect the timely disclosure of issues and if we don’t get a timely disclosure there will be consequences,” Foxx said. “We’ll keep doing that industrywide if we have to until we see compliance across the board.”

Foxx said Barra has “been handed a tough hand but she seems to be focused on getting things set to right and we’ll just continue to work with her.”

He said the administration’s push to hike the maximum fines from the current $35 million to $300 million was getting traction on Capitol Hill, especially on the Senate side. He has previously called the maximum fine “a rounding error.”

Unlike other automakers that paid maximum fines, GM admitted it broke the law.

It will disclose all possible safety problems to the agency and meet with the agency on a monthly basis. It will provide biweekly reports on how many vehicles have been repaired under the ignition switch recall and must alert the agency if it changes the repair schedule.