Faulty General Motors Ignition Switch Leads to Firings

General Motors held a town hall meeting discussing the on-going investigation into a faulty ignition switch that allegedly led to the death of 13 people.

General Motors faulted engineer Ray DeGiorgio with approving the part despite knowing it did not meet manufacturing specifications. GM CEO Mary Barra also revealed that after questioning 230 employees and reviewing more than 40 million documents during their investigation, 15 people were fired and at least five more were disciplined.

DeGiorgio approved the ignition switch for production in 2002, however the part did not meet technical specifications and even failed rotational torque tests. Barra also said that DeGiorgio had approved the switch because no performance issues were brought to his attention during development.

In the report, GM notes that engineers working on the Chevy Cobalt also played a role in the problem going undetected. They failed to understand what others already knew and as a result of the misunderstanding they categorized the problem as a “convenience” issue rather than one of safety.

Although DeGiorgio approved a better and supposedly safer version of the switch in 2009, he did not instruct the manufacturer to change the part number. If the part number would have been changed, GM could have then notified existing car owners of the defective switch.

Barra says that the investigation found that misjudgment led to safety issues being ignored, but that there was no conspiracy by the corporation to cover up the facts.