GM announces new "integrity" group to guard against future defects

General Motors has created a new "product integrity organization" to address safety in its vehicles, CEO Mary Barra announced Tuesday at a forum for the automotive industry in New York.

The group will be part of the global product development team at GM. Most of its focus, according to Barra, will be on future products.

"This new way of developing vehicles will provide the highest levels of safety, quality and customer service and ensure a situation like the ignition switch recall doesn't happen again," Barra said.

GM recalled 2.6 million cars in February to replace faulty ignition switches, which can slip from the "run" position to the "accessory" or "off" positions without warning. The defect has been linked to 13 deaths.

Barra's announcement came during an event at the Automotive Forum, part of the New York International Auto Show. Barra then sat with Jason Stein, publisher and editor of Automotive News, for an onstage Q&A session. The questions quickly turned to the recall, which Barra said GM "took too long" to begin.

Stein asked Barra if dealers currently have enough new parts to replace recalled ignition switches.

"We said it was going to take a number of months," she said. "I will tell you [the parts] will be perfect parts from a specifications perspective and I will tell you they'll be 100 percent tested to make sure of that. We are working as quickly as we can."

Asked if she would disclose when dealers would have a sufficient number of parts, Barra said GM would continue to report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Stein also questioned Barra about the exit of GM's head of communications, Selim Bingol. The company announced Monday that Bingol and Melissa Howell, previously the head of human resources, are leaving the company.

On Bingol, Barra said: "He's moving to pursue other interests and beyond that, that's an issue between the individual and the company and I'm sure everybody can respect that."

Barra declined to say definitively whether there are more management changes to come, but emphasized the importance of having an "A+ team across the board."

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