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STATEMENT BY WILLIAM J. O'NEILL, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS FOR GM'S NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS, ON LETTER ISSUED BY NHTSA ON GM'S PICKUPS

 DETROIT, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Following is a statement by William J. O'Neill, director of Public Affairs for General Motors' North American Operations, on the letter issued April 9, 1993, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on GM's 1973-1987 Full- Size Pickup Trucks:
 These GM trucks met all applicable safety standards and General Motors (NYSE: GM) does not agree with any suggestion that they should be recalled because of their side-mounted tanks. The agency's letter of April 9, 1993, does not respond to data submitted by GM since the agency's engineering analysis was opened, which show that these trucks have no "defect related to motor vehicle safety." In fact, the agency acknowledges that it has reached no final conclusion or determination and that its own investigation is continuing. General Motors intends to avail itself of the opportunity to present additional analyses to NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation ("ODI") to demonstrate why no recall of these trucks is warranted.
 Data already available and to which the ODI letter does not respond show the following:
 First, GM's full-size pickups meet or exceed NHTSA's safety standard that specifically addresses fuel system performance in side impact collisions. By law, that standard sets a level of performance that protects against any unreasonable risk to safety from leakage from fuel systems in accidents. The ODI does not suggest that GM's trucks do not meet or exceed this safety standard. In meeting this standard, the GM trucks cannot be found to present an unreasonable safety risk due to fuel tank leakage in side impact collisions, since to do so would amend the safety standard discriminatorily and retroactively.
 Second, the safety record of GM's full-size pickup trucks is equal to or better than the performance of other full-size pickup trucks made by competitors and much better than the performance of the average truck or car on the road today. In an equal number of vehicles involved in side impact collisions, GM pickups have no more post-collision fires than full-size pickups made by Ford or Dodge. And, in an equal number of vehicles involved in side impact collisions, there are no more GM pickups with fatal or major injury than competing models.
 The statistics cited by NHTSA from the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) do not indicate a defect, in part because (1) FARS data are limited to relatively rare fatal crashes which occur at speeds well in excess of those against which federal safety standards protect, (2) the "most harmful event" code is unreliable, and (3) other more comprehensive accident data reporting systems establish that in side impact collisions generally there is no greater incidence of post- collision fires in the GM pickup trucks than in other vehicles. General Motors does not believe there is a sound statistical basis for suggesting that its design is likely to lead to additional fatalities in severe, but otherwise survivable, crashes.
 A disturbing aspect of this matter is that for the past eight months, plaintiff lawyer-funded critics have repeatedly misrepresented the facts to the press and government officials in their effort to force an unwarranted recall. It is GM's continuing hope and expectation that these issues can be probed with science and not obscured by rhetoric and disinformation. The objective evidence strongly supports the excellent safety record and performance of the 1973-1987 C/K pickup trucks and their fuel systems.
 -0- 4/9/93
 /CONTACT: Bill O'Neill or Ed Lechtzin of General Motors, 313-556-2027/
 (GM)


CO: General Motors; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ST: Michigan, District of Columbia IN: AUT SU:

SM-JG -- DE009 -- 4617 04/09/93 17:19 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 9, 1993
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