TODAY | April 01, 2014
>>> new trouble for general motors related to the ignition switch problems thought to be responsible for at least 12 deaths. well, today the company's head comes face-to-face with lawmakers following an emotional meeting she had with families of accident victims last night. let's get to tom costello in washington. good morning to you.
>> reporter: hi, savannah, good morning. the saturn was already on the list of recalled vehicles, now newer models also being recalled. nbc news has obtained an internal gm document showing that eight years ago the company ordered a design change to fix the problem with the ignition switch but never told its existing customers about the problem, and it never told the government. general motors ' problems keep growing along with the list of recalled cars. the nation's second biggest automaker is now recalling another 1.3 million vehicles in the u.s. that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering resulting in a higher risk of a crash. the new list now includes 2004 through 2009 malibus. and it comes as gm's ceo is apologizing to its customers.
>> something went wrong with our process in this instance. and terrible things happened.
>> for failing to order a recall when it first learned of a serious safety flaw involving ignition switches. at least 12 deaths are believed to be linked to the defect, including 18-year-old natasha wagle. who died after the chevy cobalt lost power, being crashed into a tree in 2006 .
>> these were our children. and they just -- act like they don't matter. it may not have matter to gm, but they mattered to us.
>> now the investigative unit has obtained an internal gm memo suggesting a design engineer knew about the ignition switch problem back in 2006 and signed a document authorizing a redesign. the engineer was ray degiorgio. he said he did not know about the changes to the switch.
>> any such change was made, it was made without your knowledge and authorization?
>> that is correct.
>> but this gm document authorizing changes to the switch was signed by degiorgio himself. even changed the part, but never told gm customers who never knew they were at risk. now, the witness table is set for today's hearing on capitol hill . and ceo mary barra is sure to be grilled.
>> gm knew and accepted they were willing to have this switch that didn't meet their own specifications. well, we need to ask why that was. and what was the reason that they went ahead and did it anyway.
>> gm's ceo mary barra has only been on the job for a few months, but she will say she doesn't know why it took so long to order a recall. she's ordered an independent investigation. meanwhile, she'll apologize yet again to the family members.
>> and tom, not just gm, but the federal regulators, the ones supposed to be watching these car companies who are under some fire.
>> the highway traffic safety administration, republicans and democrats want to know why it didn't act when it had hundreds of complaints. it's told nbc news, it didn't have sufficient evidence to order a recall.