General Motors CEO Announces New Product Integrity Organization, Responds to 'SNL' Skit

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
Mary Barra

Mary Barra says the move would "ensure a situation like the ignition-switch recall doesn't happen again" and shared her reaction to her Congressional testimony parody on "SNL."

NEW YORK -- General Motors CEO Mary Barra pledged that the recall of 2.6 million GM cars, as well as the investigation into faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths, would continue "as long as needed," and that she was "dedicated to make sure the truth is out, and to understand what happened."

Speaking at the 2014 Automotive Forum on Tuesday, the executive reiterated that the embattled car-maker had placed two engineers on paid leave pending a companywide investigation to "seek the truth about what happened," and will accelerate an advanced certification program for GM engineers.

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When asked if the disastrous publicity surrounding the recall was related to yesterday's sudden departure of Selim Bingol, GM senior vp global communications, Barra said that she had "a lot of respect" for Bingol and added, "That's an issue between the individual and the company." 

During her remarks, Barra announced the creation of a global product integrity organization within the corporation to "ensure the highest levels of execution across all of our vehicles" that would "ensure that a situation like the ignition-switch recall doesn't happen again."

Barra, who took over GM in January and has worked for the car-maker for 33 years, said that despite the recall controversy, the company's culture since its bankruptcy in 2009 had shifted so that "the focus is no longer on survival -- we are more focused on quality and doing what is right for the customer."

Asked if she had seen Saturday Night Live's withering parody of her testimony before Congress last week -- portraying Barra, SNL's Kate McKinnon delivers, in Barra's Michigan accent, increasingly elliptical variations of "We are looking into that," to every question put to her -- Barra said that she had seen the skit, and that it's "important to maintain a sense of humor." 

As to whether McKinnon delivered a good Barra impression, she replied, "There are people other than me who are better to decide," as the ballroom erupted in laughter.