Second GM engineering exec retires in recall aftermath
DETROIT — A high-ranking General Motors engineer is leaving the company amid its delayed recall of small cars with faulty ignition switches.
Jim Federico, who most recently headed safety, vehicle performance and testing labs, is retiring to end almost 36 years with the company. GM said he's leaving on his own to work outside the auto industry.
Federico was GM's highest-ranking executive with safety in his title in February, when the company began recalling 2.6 million older-model small cars to replace the defective ignition switches. He was the chief engineer for global small cars in 2010 and was involved in an internal investigation into the faulty switches.
The switches can unexpectedly move out of the “run” position, shutting off the engine and disabling the power-assisted steering and brakes, and the air bags. GM says the problem has been linked to 13 deaths, but one trial lawyer says he has 53 wrongful death lawsuits against GM because of the problem.
The company has admitted knowing about the faulty switches for more than a decade, yet it didn't issue any recalls until this year. Both houses of Congress, the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating why it took GM so long to act.
Federico reported to global engineering chief John Calabrese, who retired last month after 33 years at GM. Both Calabrese and Federico reported up the chain of command to CEO Mary Barra, who was in charge of safety when she was head of global product development from Feb. 1, 2011, until she took the top job in January of this year.
Depositions taken in a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit, and emails given to congressional committees by GM, show that Federico was in charge of a 2012 investigation into the switches and held meetings to get updates from his team. At some point, he was pulled off the team, and it was given a different leader, Gay Kent, according to a deposition.
Kent is director of vehicle safety operations and crashworthiness and reported to Federico during the past two years, according to the organizational chart.
The outcome of the investigation was unclear, and GM hasn't said why it took more than a year for the company to start the recalls.
Federico's retirement is the latest in a string of personnel changes at GM since the recall crisis began.
In addition to Calabrese, the company has suspended two engineers with pay who worked on the ignition switches. The human resources and public relations chiefs have each left the company.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Construction of $500M power plant in South Huntingdon stalled
- Not all pleased about jobs
- Look out for auto insurance discounts
- Groups stand against ‘sub-minimum’ wage for workers with disabilities
- Car dealers find silver lining in cloud of vehicle recalls
- Even though it’s a hassle, stay on top of Facebook privacy settings
- Pork anxiety looms over trade talks
- Fair Trade profitable for coffee venture
- Fledgling services offer social networkers payment for posts
- Durable goods orders up 0.7% in June
- EPA failing to stop natural gas pipeline leaks, internal watchdog says