July 2, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Senate to hold new GM hearing July 17

A Senate panel investigating General Motors Co.’s delayed recall of 2.6 million vehicles linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes will hold a new hearing on July 17.

The committee hasn’t announced a witness list. GM Mary Barra previously offered to return to testify before the committee when she appeared in early April and she testified before a House panel last month.

Barra is almost certain to testify, but GM wouldn’t confirm that.

“As Mary has said before, she will testify if invited by the committee. She looks forward to giving an update on all that we’re doing to make things right for our customers and the changes we’re making to create a stronger, safety-centered company,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said.

The panel’s chair, Sen Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, said earlier this week she was looking forward to a new hearing. “I’m hopeful that the new compensation program will help bring some closure and relief to victims and families affected by the failures of GM that took many lives, and forever changed many more. And we continue to lay the groundwork for a Senate hearing in July to address unanswered questions, and keep pressure on GM leadership and federal regulators to prevent these needless tragedies in the future” she said.

This week, GM recalled another 8.45 million vehicles for ignition defects. It has now recalled a record 29 million vehicles worldwide and 25.7 million in the United States — the most in a single year by any automaker.

GM is under investigation by the U.S Attorney’s Office in New York aided by a federal grand jury, the Securities and Exchange Commission and more than a dozen state attorneys general after the Detroit automaker didn’t follow the law in delaying, by nearly a decade, a recall of 2.6 million vehicles linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes.

Last month, Barra fired 15 employees and disciplined five — including a company vice president, lawyers and engineers — after an internal report prepared by a former U.S attorney found a “pattern of incompetence and neglect.”

NHTSA in recent months since GM’s recall crisis has taken a far more aggressive stance. It has pressured automakers to recall vehicles more quickly and opened investigations after a few reports of problems. The U.S. auto industry has recalled nearly 40 million vehicles this year, far more than the all-time record set in 2004 when all automakers selling cars in the U.S. recalled 30.8 million vehicles.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com