Mary Barra Stands Her Ground On Capitol Hill

It's been baptism by fire for Mary Barra.

Less than three months into her job as CEO, the longtime General Motors GM executive found herself enduring two days of testimony on Capitol Hill this week – trying to explain to lawmakers why GM only recently announced the recall of some compact cars with a defective ignition switch – a flaw the automaker was apparently aware of as far back as 2001.

The defect has been blamed for several dozen crashes and at least 13 deaths – and GM has recalled 2.2 million vehicles in the past two months to repair the flaw.

"Today's GM will do the right thing," Barra told the House committee on Tuesday. She also said GM will take a $750 million first quarter charge to account for the ignition switch recalls and several other recalls – and that the company under her leadership is “focused on safety.”

Related: Detroit's Big Three Auto Makers Report March Sales

Industry analysts, meanwhile, said Barra was able to hold her ground during the difficult questioning.

“She noted that GM had already commissioned a full, outside investigation into the issue," Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and analyst at Kelley Blue Book, tells Benzinga, “but many lawmakers were not satisfied with that as an answer to questions about what did GM know and when did it know about the problem. Barra promised that GM would not make the same decisions in the future that it had in the past.”

Alec Gutierrez, a KBB senior analyst, still wonders why GM is only now addressing a decade-old design flaw.

“Of the most damning evidence, that some within GM approved of redesigning the ignition switch without changing the part number,” he wrote. “Ms. Barra commented that she found this practice unacceptable and would do whatever necessary to ensure the series of events that led us to where we are today never happens again.”

Gutierrez also wonders if consumers will accept Barra's word on GM's newfound focus on safety. But he also notes the company's bottom line appears to remain sound.

“GM saw retail sales volume improve by seven percent this month,” he adds, “outpacing the overall industry average growth pace. While this process is far from over, Mary Barra looks to be committed to getting GM through this crisis by focusing on quality and transparency in a way that they never have previously.”

Posted In: Alec Gutierrezautomotive industryautomotive recallConsumer ConfidenceJack NeradKelley Blue BookMary BarraNewsPoliticsPsychologyEventsGlobalAnalyst RatingsMediaGeneral

Ad Disclosure: The rate information is obtained by Bankrate from the listed institutions. Bankrate cannot guaranty the accuracy or availability of any rates shown above. Institutions may have different rates on their own websites than those posted on Bankrate.com. The listings that appear on this page are from companies from which this website receives compensation, which may impact how, where, and in what order products appear. This table does not include all companies or all available products.

All rates are subject to change without notice and may vary depending on location. These quotes are from banks, thrifts, and credit unions, some of whom have paid for a link to their own Web site where you can find additional information. Those with a paid link are our Advertisers. Those without a paid link are listings we obtain to improve the consumer shopping experience and are not Advertisers. To receive the Bankrate.com rate from an Advertiser, please identify yourself as a Bankrate customer. Bank and thrift deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Credit union deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Consumer Satisfaction: Bankrate attempts to verify the accuracy and availability of its Advertisers' terms through its quality assurance process and requires Advertisers to agree to our Terms and Conditions and to adhere to our Quality Control Program. If you believe that you have received an inaccurate quote or are otherwise not satisfied with the services provided to you by the institution you choose, please click here.

Rate collection and criteria: Click here for more information on rate collection and criteria.