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General Motors CEO Mary Barra Faces Congress Over Deadly Ignition Switch

The company says it is completing an internal investigation into a dangerous part that has caused 2.6 million vehicles to be recalled.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra Faces Congress Over Deadly Ignition Switch

[Image: Flickr user Michael Kumm]

General Motors is in big trouble. After rising from the ashes of bankruptcy in 2009, the American car manufacturer is facing its most embarrassing crisis to date. To summarize: a faulty ignition switch caused power to cut out in millions of its vehicles, including the Chevy Cobalt, 2.6 million of which have been recalled so far. People have been hurt, and 13 people may have died in connection with the part. And the exact scope of the damage won't be known until plaintiffs get a final count as the claims come trickling in.

This week, newly appointed CEO Mary Barra is testifying in front of Congress, answering tough questions and offering apologies regarding the disastrous ignition switch fiasco. And she has a lot of explaining to do. GM allegedly knew about the faulty part all the way back in 2001. And Ray DeGiorgio, the engineer who allegedly knew about the deadly ignition switch flaw, is still employed by the company. Here's ABC News business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who has been reporting from the congressional hearings:

Barra, who was appointed CEO in December 2013, is one of the most powerful women in American manufacturing. This week she told Congress she has "no idea" why the dangers weren't reported to the public until she took the reins at GM. In a 2011 profile in Fast Company, Barra spoke at length about what she perceived to be the company's greatest challenge:

At that moment, she has to deliver, or else permanently lose her chance to redeem a wayward GM customer. "Our biggest challenge is to get them in the vehicle," she says. "Because if you get that one chance, where they go, 'Okay, maybe I'll give Buick, or Chevy, or Cadillac, or GMC a try'—and you let them down?" She pauses and seems to shudder at the idea.