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The NDAs That GM Signed With Early Cadillac Lyriq Adopters Raise a Red Flag at NHTSA

The Cadillac Lyriq is crucial for the brand’s future, so GM wants to get it right. The company intends to gather as much feedback as possible from the first customers before starting a broader rollout. But GM’s initiative to sign confidential agreements with early adopters has attracted NHTSA’s unwanted attention.
The NDAs that GM signed with early Cadillac Lyriq adopters raise a red flag at NHTSA 13 photos
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General Motors quietly started a new program requiring some Cadillac Lyriq customers to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) when they bought or leased the new all-electric SUV. Selected customers were offered a $5,500 rebate if they agreed to let GM track them while using the Lyriq. They are also prohibited from talking to people outside of GM about their experience with the new Cadillac. But NHTSA is concerned that the NDAs would deter people from reporting any safety problems to the agency.

“NHTSA relies on reports from consumers as an important source of information in evaluating potential safety defects,” said NHTSA spokesperson Lucia Sanchez in an email to Detroit Free Press. “Any agreement that may prevent or dissuade consumers from reporting safety concerns to NHTSA is unacceptable.”

NHTSA is particularly concerned that other carmakers would follow GM with similar programs that prevent or discourage people from reporting safety issues with their vehicles. GM’s program is limited to about 20 selected Cadillac Lyriq customers in metro Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles. Still, it could signal a broader trend for the industry.

General Motors spokesman Dan Flores dismissed NHTSA’s concerns and said they were advised of this fact. According to him, this “small-scale Ambassador program” was created to provide early learnings for the first vehicles sold. This includes handling, performance, safety, comfort, and “any other feedback the Ambassadors wish to share as Cadillac enthusiasts.” But the NDAs do not prevent them from reporting safety issues to NHTSA.

“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,” said Flores in a statement emailed to Detroit Free Press.

The move to recruit customers to do initial studies on a vehicle is unprecedented in the auto industry. Usually, a new car’s first “customers” are the company’s employees. The feedback gathered during this phase is used to iron out any last issues discovered during the everyday use of the vehicle. Even though Cadillac did use employees, they wanted to extend the program to real customers to better understand their use cases.

 
 
 
 
 

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