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U.S. safety regulators end daily fines for GM on switch recall

2006 ignition GM ignition switch and a newer version. Reuters/Michael Spooneybarger
2006 ignition GM ignition switch and a newer version. Reuters/Michael Spooneybarger

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. safety regulators said on Wednesday that General Motors Co no longer has to pay a $7,000 daily fine for its failure to supply required documents about the defective ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths.

GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, will pay about $430,000 in cumulative fines for not meeting the safety agency's April 3 deadline to answer 107 questions about its recall of 2.6 million vehicles because of the faulty switch.

By Friday, GM must also pay a record $35 million fine that the NHTSA levied last month for the company's delay in catching the defective switch.

GM spokesman Greg Martin confirmed the daily fines had ended and the company would pay the $35 million fine "under the terms of the consent order."

Since early this year, the Detroit automaker has been enveloped in a scandal over why it took more than a decade to begin recalling low-cost Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars with ignition-switch problems that were causing the vehicles to stall during operation.

When the engines stalled, air bags failed to deploy during crashes - some of them fatal - and drivers struggled to control their vehicles as power steering and brake systems malfunctioned.

The NHTSA began fining GM on April 4 and ended the penalties on June 5, when the Detroit automaker turned over an internal report on where it had fallen short in catching the defective switch, a NHTSA spokeswoman said. GM dismissed 15 employees and disciplined five others for their roles in the crisis.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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