2014-03-31T232649Z_4_CBREA2U1LKS00_RTROPTP_2_GM

GM enters harsh spotlight as Congress hearings begin

File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in DetroitBy Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress will try to establish who is to blame for at least 13 auto-related deaths over the past decade, as public hearings are launched on Tuesday on General Motors Co’s slow response to defective ignition switches in cars. Despite tougher laws being enacted in 2000 and 2010 to encourage automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to aggressively root out safety concerns, it took GM more than a decade to acknowledge publicly that it had a potentially fatal problem. Documents that GM and NHTSA turned over to the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee have provided new insights into GM’s practices. They include decisions to install ignition switches in Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other models that did not meet all of the company’s own specifications.

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