It started with an exposé written in the late 1950s and early ’60s about the car industry and its willingness to produce dangerous vehicles. At the time, in a book called Unsafe at Any Speed, Ralph Nader led an effort to alert consumers and lawmakers about dangerous car and truck models being sold in U.S. markets. It was through this book and it’s focus on a car called the Corvair, that U.S. consumers first learned that car manufacturers were willfully producing and selling defective cars and trucks. That book, and the outcry that followed, led to the creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Another infamously defective car was the Ford Pinto. It tended to burst into flames in rear-end collisions and was part of another gigantic auto maker scandal. In that case, it was found that Ford had circulated a memo internally which callously calculated the cost of reinforcing the rear end ($121 million) versus the potential payout to victims ($50 million). They opted not to fix the problem until it was too late for many motorists.
Fast forward from the story of the Corvair of the late 1950s/early ’60s and the Ford Pinto to GM products today.