Documents shed light on how much top GM execs knew about switch defect

|By:, SA News Editor

Internal GM (GM) documents show that some senior managers knew about the faulty ignition switches that have been linked to 13 deaths long before the company issued a massive recall in February.

In October 2012, for example, the chief of all small car development, Jim Federico, received an update about the company's 2005-2007 Cobalt air bag investigation in an email entitled "the Cobalt and Ignition Switch Effort."

There's no evidence that new GM CEO Mary Barra was aware of the issue until December 2013, although in 2011, when a GM VP, she did receive correspondence about a power-steering problem that had prompted a recall in 2010.

The revelations come in 700 pages of documents that the House Energy & Commerce committee released on Friday.

Meanwhile, in 2007, the head of the defects assessment division at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for the agency to open a probe into the failure of air bags to deploy in frontal crashes in Cobalts and Ions, but the recommendation was rejected.