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Why did it take a decade for deadly defect to be detected? ‘I cannot tell you,’ says GM boss


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"Why didn’t GM and NHTSA put the pieces together for 10 years? Why didn’t anyone ask the critically important questions?" Murphy said. "To borrow a phrase, what we have here is a failure to communicate - and the results are deadly."

Barra said she found "very disturbing" a statement made by a GM official who in 2005 rejected a proposed fix for the flawed switch because it was not cost-effective.

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"That is not how we do business at today’s GM," she said.

Throughout nearly two hours of testimony, Barra remained even-tempered and contrite. But she was also tight-lipped and, at times, evasive.

Asked how often the automaker uses parts that do not match its specifications, Barra said the company always aims to use parts that are safe and reliable. Parts that do not meet technical requirements, she said, are not necessarily defective.

"What you just answered is gobbledygook," shot back Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas.

Later, after Barra had left the hearing room and been replaced at the witness table by Friedman, Barton summed up lawmakers’ reaction to her performance.

"I think it’s obvious," he said, "that GM has some real questions that they’ve not done a very good job answering today."

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