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GM penny-wise and pound-foolish says Marina v.N. Whitman

April 2, 2014

In an interview with reporters, Marina v.N. Whitman, once the highest ranking female executive in the auto industry and a former vice president and group executive at General Motors, discusses the company's lengthy delay in recalling cars with faulty ignition switches that have been blamed for at least 13 deaths.

"GM's culture is blamed in safety crisis," by Michael A. Fletcher and Steven Mufson, first appeared in The Washington Post, and has since been picked up by a dozen papers across the nation.

"It's pretty clear that somebody somewhere was being penny-wise and pound-foolish," Whitman told reporters. "It's hard to find an explanation for why somebody didn't do something about something that was known for a good decade. And, for that matter, why [federal regulators] didn't wake up sooner." The part, report Fletcher and Mufson, costs only $10 wholesale and takes less than an hour to replace.

Whitman notes the dramatic shift in GM's response in recent months, as Mary T. Barra, GM's new chief executive, has taken charge. "For the first few days, it was the classic old-style GM: Say as little as possible and, above all, keep the chief exec as far away from it as you can," said Whitman. "Then suddenly, overnight, everything changed."