UNDATED (WJRT) -
(05/16/14) - General Motors has been hit with a big fine for failing to recall million of cars with defective ignition switches.
The federal government says the evidence it found was "deeply disturbing."
GM has agreed to pay $35 million, the maximum penalty the Department of Transportation can levy. The amount is less than a day's revenue for GM.
The government says silence can kill, and GM broke the law by saying nothing.
"What we cannot tolerate, what we will never accept is a person or a company that knows danger exists and does nothing," said Anthony Foxx, transportation secretary.
The Department of Transportation says GM broke the law by waiting too long to take action on a problem with ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.
"They had that information and they told no one," Foxx said.
This is the first time any automaker has been fined that much.The federal government would like to raise the maximum fine to $300 million.
"Together, these penalties should put all automakers on notice. There is no excuse and zero tolerance for failing to notify the federal government when a defect puts safety at risk," Foxx said.
GM has agreed to government oversight on safety issues, and it's supposed to report safety problems much more quickly than in the past.
"A supplier notified General Motors as early as 2009 that the airbags in the Cobalt would not work unless the key was in the run position," said David Friedman, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acting administrator.
GM CEO Mary Barra says the company has learned a great deal from this recall and will now focus on becoming an industry leader in safety.