GM Puts Embattled Engineers on Leave in Light of New Findings
Two engineers who reportedly were responsible for “fateful calls” in the ongoing ignition switch fiasco have been placed on paid leave by General Motors (NYSE:GM), Bloomberg reports. Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman played a significant role in what has now blown up into a federal investigation spanning several agencies, and the two are suspended with pay until the matters are settled.
GM’s now-infamous 2.59 million small car recall has been directly attributed to at least 13 deaths and numerous accidents. Any extraneous weight on the keyring can cause the ignition switch to shift off or into accessory mode, thereby disabling the power brakes, power steering, and the airbags while the car is still moving, all because of a component smaller than a dime that didn’t live up to General Motors’ internal specifications — but was installed anyways.
Altman, Bloomberg says, led the engineering team that worked on the Chevrolet Cobalt, one of the affected cars, and rejected a fix because it was too expensive and would take too long, internal documents indicated. DeGiorgio, meanwhile, was the head of the team that designed the faulty switch.
“In 2006, after car columnists and customers complained about the switch, DeGiorgio quietly greenlighted an improvement that others at GM didn’t learn about for more than six years,” Bloomberg reports. “Last year, he denied under oath that he knew the part had been changed.”