Saving money on a new car is great but not at the expense of safety standards.
But it turns out that GM's experimental approach to the Lyriq doesn't begin and end with the car itself, as the brand has embarked on an unusual strategy to learn more about customer behavior and obtain vehicle information. In return for a $5,500 rebate, certain customers were asked to share data with Cadillac but only if they signed a non-disclosure agreement preventing them from discussing the vehicle with third parties. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has now expressed its unhappiness with GM over the NDA.
NHTSA's primary concern is that the NDA could stop owners from reporting any safety issues with the Lyriq. This is of particular concern when it comes to an all-new vehicle when teething troubles are more prevalent.
"NHTSA relies on reports from consumers as an important source of information in evaluating potential safety defects," said spokesperson Lucia Sanchez in an email to the Detroit Free Press. "Any agreement that may prevent or dissuade consumers from reporting safety concerns to the NHTSA is unacceptable."
The program is the first of its kind as other automakers typically recruit employees to drive preproduction vehicles, thereby identifying and reporting any potential issues. It is also designed so that GM can get more insight into maintenance and charging habits as it works towards a goal of becoming an all-electric brand by 2030.
The NHTSA is "in communication with GM regarding" the NDA. However, GM has already defended its program, with spokesman Dan Flores saying the following in an email: "While the program agreement contains provisions designed to protect GM confidential and proprietary information, it is not intended to, and does not, prohibit or preclude participants from reporting any issue, safety or otherwise, to NHTSA or any other regulatory body."
GM is said to be sending the program's participants written communication to clarify that they are allowed to report safety concerns to the NHTSA or any other relevant agency, but it's not clear when this will be completed. Considering that only around 20 customers had been chosen to participate, it shouldn't take GM long to appease the NHTSA's concerns.