GM Recall Update: Two Engineers Placed on Leave, Ignition Lock Cylinders Also to Be Replaced

GM Recall Update: Two Engineers Placed on Leave, Ignition Lock Cylinders Also to Be Replaced

As part of its efforts during its ignition-switch recall, General Motors wants employees to “quickly and forcefully” flag potential safety problems, according to a new “Speak Up for Safety” directive from CEO Mary Barra.

“We will recognize employees who discover and report safety issues to fix problems that could have been found earlier and identify ways to make vehicles safer,” Barra said to employees on Thursday.

Without going into any specifics—including whether there would be a whistleblower tip line like the one Toyota set up as part of a three-year audit by multiple federal agencies, including the FBI—GM said it would “foster a ‘safety first’ culture” and review every issue “within a prescribed time period.”

At the same time, GM has suspended two engineers involved in the ignition-switch scandal following a recommendation from the company’s internal auditor, former U.S. attorney Anton Valukas. The two employees, identified as Gary Altman and Ray DeGiorgio, are on “paid leave.” During a Senate hearing earlier this month, GM submitted a document signed by DeGiorgio, the project engineer for the Cobalt ignition switch, that appeared to authorize a redesign in 2006 without changing the part number. The document was withheld by the company during an ignition-switch lawsuit GM settled last year that involved DeGiorgio.

GM Recall Update: Two Engineers Placed on Leave, Ignition Lock Cylinders Also to Be Replaced

“It is hard for me to imagine you would want him anywhere near engineering anything at General Motors under these circumstances,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said to Barra. “For the life of me, I can’t understand why he still has his job.”

In a deposition under oath recorded in April 2013, DeGiorgio said he was never aware GM redesigned the part and said Delphi had made an unauthorized change. “I was not aware of a detent-plunger-switch change,” he said. “We certainly did not approve a detent-plunger design change.”

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Altman, the Cobalt’s program engineering manager between 2000 and 2005, said during a deposition in June 2013 that GM still hadn’t determined the “root cause” of the stalling cars and “couldn’t hundred percent fix the problem.” He also said the cars were still safe since they “could still be maneuvered to the side of the road, in control, in that condition.”

GM also said today it would cut new keys and replace the ignition lock cylinder on all of the 2.2 million recalled cars in the U.S. GM said it turned up “several hundred complaints of keys coming out of ignitions” that could result in cars rolling away.

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