Today in Detroit, General Motors' CEO Mary Barra spoke to shareholders about the ignition failure issue that has dominated the automotive news cycle—and based on what she said, maybe rightly so. As tragic as the deaths are, they've exposed some stunning corporate incompetence and systemic cultural problems at GM. So maybe it's not surprising that a broken corporate culture would understate the number of deaths related to the failure. Maybe they really can't get accurate data; maybe they don't want to. Hard to say.
Barra and company have put Kenneth Feinberg, a victims compensation lawyer, in charge of the fund that will compensate those killed and injured by the defect. And GM is basically saying that as Feinberg figures out who to pay, he'll uncover victims that GM itself couldn't identify—small comfort to those aggrieved families who've been saying the death toll has been understated the whole time.
No word on how large the compensation fund will be, but reports the recall will set GM back $1.7 billion—that's enough by itself to keep the accountants very busy without a compensation fund to worry about.