By Paul Lienert and Eric Beech DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Motors engineers reported accidentally turning off ignition switches in a Cadillac SRX with their knees more than eight years ago, and they ordered a similar fix to a similar problem in smaller, cheaper cars linked to 13 deaths, according to documents from parts maker Delphi Automotive. The documents, provided to U.S. safety regulators, show GM used the same part, from the Cadillac Catera sedan, to make ignition switches more difficult to turn off on the 2007 Cadillac SRX crossover and the 2007 Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt sedans. The documents are the first indication that GM's luxury Cadillac brand experienced ignition-switch problems similar to those that triggered the recall earlier this year of 2.6 million GM compacts, including the Cobalt and Ion. GM did not immediately respond to requests for clarification.
A former sales manager for Bridgestone Corp has agreed to plead guilty and serve 18 months in prison for participating in a conspiracy to fix the prices of rubber anti-vibration devices used in automotive suspension systems and engine mounts, the Justice Department said on Wednesday. In a separate action involving Bridgestone on Tuesday, one executive and two other former executives were indicted for conspiracy. Bridgestone itself agreed in February to plead guilty to price-fixing and agreed to pay a $425 million criminal fine. The Justice Department said Yusuke Shimasaki, a former Bridgestone sales manager, agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of fixing the prices of products sold to Toyota Motor Corp , Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd , which makes Subaru cars.
Lawmakers probing how General Motors used faulty ignition switches in many vehicles are turning their scrutiny to the supplier of the part, Delphi Automotive. A group of senators on Tuesday wrote to Delphi Chief Executive Officer Rodney O'Neal, asking for information about whether the parts supplier pushed back against GM after the automaker apparently did not accept a proposed fix to the switches. "It is our understanding that a fix was proposed by Delphi regarding the ignition switch in 2005 but GM did not adopt the change," the letter said. "As we continue evaluating the GM recall it is critically important that we understand the decisions made by Delphi and the company's interaction with GM." Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat, signed the letter along with three fellow senators – John Thune, the top Republican on the panel, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Dean Heller.
By Yoko Kubota and Maki Shiraki TOYOTA CITY, Japan/TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp is set to post record growth for the year just ended – with a likely $10 billion surge in operating profit – but the mood at its HQ in Japan's prosperous automotive heartland is cautious as executives warn of a leaner year ahead. Japan's most valuable listed company is shifting to a new phase of much slower but more stable growth, senior executives said, as the burst of gains from a weak yen and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's stimulus policies fades. That trend, fed also by an increase in Japan's sales tax and slowdowns in key overseas markets such as Thailand, could see the world's largest carmaker eventually losing its crown to an ascendant Volkswagen AG . "Last year's pace was abnormal in the context of sustainable growth," said a senior executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
One Bridgestone Corp executive and two former officials from the company were indicted Tuesday for conspiring to fix the prices of certain automotive parts, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. Bridgestone itself agreed in February to plead guilty to price-fixing and agreed to pay a $425 million criminal fine. The case involves anti-vibration parts used in automotive suspension systems and engine mounts. Yoshiyuki Tanaka, Yasuo Ryuto and Isao Yoshida, all Japanese nationals, were indicted on Monday in a court in Ohio for allegedly fixing the prices of parts sold to Toyota Motor Corp , Nissan Motor Corp , Suzuki Motor Corp and Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd , which makes Subaru cars, the department said.
By Eric Beech, Paul Lienert and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors engineers were well aware of serious problems with ignition switches in GM small cars, but rejected several opportunities to make fixes, according to dozens of confidential documents released on Friday by a Congressional committee investigating the deadly defect. Parts supplier Delphi Automotive also repeatedly tested switches and found they did not meet GM specifications, according to emails and other memos. The internal documents from GM, Delphi and a U.S. safety agency chart numerous examples of switch failure, of the sort that led GM earlier this year to recall 2.6 million cars to replace defective switches now linked to at least 13 deaths. The documents, the first tranche of some 250,000 pages, were released by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which last week grilled GM Chief Executive Mary Barra on the automaker's slow response to problems that GM first documented in 2001.
By Eric Beech and Paul Lienert WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) – Documents made public on Friday by a U.S. House of Representatives committee provided fresh details on General Motors Co's awareness of problems surrounding ignition switches in millions of its cars – long before the Detroit automaker recalled the vehicles. These documents also show that federal regulators were concerned that GM dragged its heels on safety measures at a time when ignition-switch failures in some of its smaller vehicles were being linked to deaths that now total 13. A top official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told General Motors in a July 2013 email that the automaker was "slow to communicate, slow to act" on defects and recalls. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has collected more than 250,000 documents – mainly from GM but also from parts supplier Delphi Automotive Plc and a federal regulator – is trying to find out why it took GM more than a decade to notify the public of a safety problem linked to fatalities.