Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 2, 2014

GM's recall should drive auto reform

Wondering why General Motors went bankrupt and needed a taxpayer bailout? Just consider the Chevrolet Cobalt. Introduced in 2004 as the vehicle that would finally make GM’s small cars competitive with those from Japan, the Cobalt’s mediocre performance translated into, at best, so-so sales.

Beneath its shiny surface, the product was even worse than the motoring public realized. For all the money and public-relations puffery GM poured into the Cobalt’s launch, the company apparently couldn’t be bothered with such details as a properly working ignition switch. Instead, it settled for parts that occasionally caused the car to shut off while in motion, disabling both the power steering and air bags. This failing has been linked to multiple accidents and 12 deaths. Despite ample warnings from inside the company and many consumer complaints, GM swept the problem under the rug, until now. Far too late, it has recalled 2.6 million vehicles that may contain the potentially deadly defect.

For GM, still struggling to shake off the “Government Motors” stigma, the fiasco is a reminder that, despite much progress, its renaissance is incomplete. The public cannot be sure that taxpayer money bought a truly new GM unless and until new chief executive Mary Barra — herself a GM “lifer” — eradicates all vestiges of the buck-passing management culture that produced the Cobalt. Ms. Barra must use her testimony before Congress on Tuesday to demonstrate credibly that she is on top of the company’s quality problems, past and, more important, future. In that sense, GM’s fresh recall of certain Chevy Cruze models is a mixed blessing: The company is taking action, but the Cruze is GM’s small-car successor to the Cobalt.

There are lessons here for government as well. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration received indications of a problem with the Cobalt in 2007 and again in 2010 but took no action. Congress needs to know why.

Text Only
Opinion
  • City wastes money Editor:In the paper Wednesday it was reported that someone with the City Of Mount Vernon had responded to the concerns of about 40 people that came out in support of the Henningers on 42nd St.The statement in part was; as stewards of the tax-payer’s

    August 22, 2014

  • The right presidential reaction As the tumultuous situation in Ferguson, Mo., entered its second week, President Obama stood before the nation and offered a mild, balanced plea. There is “no excuse” for excessive use of deadly force by police, he observed at a Monday news conferenc

    August 22, 2014

  • HIGHWAY TO THE DANGER ZONE Remember MacGyver? He was the fictional secret agent of 1980s television who would get out of world-threatening jams using only duct tape and a Swiss Army knife. Listening to Pope Francis in Korea the other day, I had some flashbacks to the prime-ti

    August 22, 2014

  • Keeping up with the Comcast call-center fiasco I’ve been intending for a while to write about the Comcast call-center fiasco, but it’s hard to keep up: the story just gets weirder and weirder. Following the now-viral recording of the telephone call in which a customer service representative essen

    August 21, 2014

  • System needed for choosing House In the original conception of our Constitution, the House of Representatives was to be the branch of government that best reflected the will of the people. House members cannot serve without being elected — vacancies are not filled by appointees — an

    August 21, 2014

  • Dems plead for more money I’ve been getting a lot of email from Democratic fundraisers lately. They seem very worried about November’s elections.First came the highly publicized “Impeachment Red Alert” campaign, in which the Democratic congressional committee warned that Repu

    August 21, 2014

  • Why Obama shouldn't go to Ferguson On Monday, ABC’s Ann Compton asked President Barack Obama whether he would visit Ferguson, Missouri, amid the continued unrest. Obama didn’t give a firm answer, but he did suggest it’s probably not a good idea.“When they’re conducting an investigatio

    August 20, 2014

  • Food stamps' $80B secret spending program Imagine a government program that has exploded in size, is the subject of bitter partisan haggling and spends almost $80 billion a year in secret.No, not the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Homeland Secu

    August 20, 2014

  • Vouchers provide greater choice I was chatting the other day with a fellow who, along with his wife, homeschool his children. We joked about the stereotype: Moms in denim skirts.But then he expounded on the benefits his youngsters have derived from being taught at home: a customize

    August 20, 2014

  • A rare experience Alexandra Petri’s editorial, “What exactly are we seeing in Ferguson” is well written and did something which has increasingly become a rare experience for me. Her article caused me to think!Petri makes the case for media coverage of American events,

    August 19, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks