Mary Barra on Today Show: 'If I could turn back the clock, I would'

DETROIT – Six months ago, Mary Barra became the first female CEO of General Motors. She was immediately thrust into the spotlight as the automaker began damage-control mode for delaying the recall of 2.6 million vehicles for an ignition switch defect that's been tied to at least 13 deaths. Some GM employees knew the part was causing trouble more than a decade before the recall was issued in February.


Now, GM is facing dozens of lawsuits and a number of investigations concerning how they handled the recall.

Barra sat down Thursday in Detroit for a one-on-one interview with Today Show anchor Matt Lauer.


Here is some of what she had to say.

What's next?

"We're going to continue to look at the data that we get and take the action that we need. That's our commitment to customers. If we find an issue, we're going to deal with it."

Will there be more recalls?

 "It's possible"

Have you fired everyone you think you need to?

"Yes, I think we have."

Was something criminal going on inside General Motors?

"Clearly this issue took too long to find it. In this case, we failed our customers. We failed them with these vehicles. Again, the criminal aspects of it, that's for the courts to decide."

Was there a cover up?

"I really don't think there was a cover up. I think what we had, and it was covered in the report, were silos of information. So, people had bits and pieces and didn't come forward with information, or didn't act with a sense of urgency."

On sitting down with victims' families

 "It was incredibly difficult to know that mistakes were made that caused people to lose loved ones or to have serious physical injury. If I could turn back the clock, I would."

Did you ever stop and think, "Why did I get this job?"

"Through tough periods of time, and General Motors has had tough periods in the past, I know the men and women of General Motors, the vast majority come to work every day, they do their best. As difficult as it is, I am more committed than ever to make sure we make this company what I know it can be."

Will the number of deaths rise?

"I think people have misunderstood. The 13 was when we first looked into this issue and looked at things that could be related to this defect. The compensation program that we're doing, we want every single person who either lost a loved one or had a serious physical injury, to be a part of that program - because we want to do the right thing."

Why don't you want GM to put this behind them?

"We need to make sure we don't forget, because that's the only sure-fire way to make sure we don't repeat it again. That's what's most important. We want to be a company that our customers can trust when they get behind the wheel, when they get into one of our products. We can't forget what happened."

Can people trust this company right now?

"They absolutely can, because we're doing the right thing. We're being guided by our values, and that's to do the right thing by the customer. We make every decision by putting the customer in the center."

Read: GM 2014 year-to-date North American recalls

Complete coverage: GM ignition switch recall investigation