Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

May 6, 2014

Second GM engineering exec retires in recall wake

DETROIT (AP) — Another high-ranking General Motors engineer is leaving the company in the wake of its delayed recall of small cars with faulty ignition switches.

Jim Federico, who most recently headed safety, vehicle performance and testing labs, is retiring after 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 also 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 due to 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, according to a company organizational chart.

GM said in a statement that Federico was one of its leading and most accomplished engineers, playing key roles in successful vehicles such as the Buick LaCrosse, Regal and Verano, the Cadillac CTS and XTS, and the Chevrolet Spark, Sonic, Trax, Cruze and Impala.

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