GM appoints Jeff Boyer as vehicle safety chief

A Chevrolet HHR on display Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption GM is under scrutiny over its handling of the recall to fix faulty ignition switches

US car manufacturer General Motors (GM) has created a new senior post to oversee vehicle safety and recalls.

It has appointed Jeff Boyer, who has spent nearly 40 years at GM, as the global vehicle safety chief.

The move comes as the firm faces investigations over its handling of a recall to fix faulty ignition switches.

GM issued the recall, which affects 1.6 million vehicles, last month, but has admitted employees knew about the problem as early as 2004.

"This new role elevates and integrates our safety process under a single leader, so we can set a new standard for customer safety with more rigorous accountability," Mary Barra, chief executive of the firm, said in a statement.

Under pressure

The carmaker has come under scrutiny over its handling of the recall, not least because the problem has been linked to casualties.

The faulty ignition switches could turn off the engine, disabling the airbags. GM has linked the problem to 12 deaths.

However, last week a report commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety linked the faulty airbags in two of the six models affected by the recall to 303 deaths.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The recalls are the first major challenge for new GM boss Mary Barra

It claimed it had got the number by reviewing US federal crash data for the said models.

But GM has disputed the number in the report, saying it only looked at raw data and did not evaluate the reasons.

Despite the debate over the numbers, the firm is facing increasing pressure.

Two US congressional committees have said they will investigate the handling of the issue. GM has also launched an internal inquiry into the matter.

In a further setback, GM issued three separate recalls on Monday affecting nearly 1.5 million vehicles.

It also said that it expected to spend nearly $300m (£180m) in the first quarter to repair vehicles affected by the recent recalls.