Pressure on General Motors in the Cobalt recall heightens today as The Wall Street Journal reports engineers knew of ignition problems and expected drivers to coast out of traffic.
Jeff Bennett and Siobhan Hughes write that GM engineering managers knew about ignition-switch problems on the 2005 Cobalt that could disable power steering, power brakes and air bags, but launched the car because they believed the vehicles could be safely coasted off the road after a stall, according to court documents.
The new details about how GM employees viewed the ignition switch problem in the years after the Cobalt's 2004 debut emerged from depositions taken in a lawsuit filed after one of the dozen fatal accidents GM has linked to the problem.
In those accidents, air bags failed to deploy after ignition switches slipped out of the "on" position. GM last month recalled 1.6 million vehicles to fix the switches.
"That is what happened, yes," Gary Altman, program engineering manager for the 2005 Cobalt, said when asked in a June 2013 deposition whether GM made "a business decision not to fix this problem" before the Cobalt was launched in 2004.
NOTE: This article appears behind a paywall on the Wall Street Journal website.