High-Ranking GM Engineer Involved in Ignition-Switch Analysis Retires

DETROIT (Detroit Free Press/MCT) -

Jim Federico, a General Motors Co. engineer who led an internal analysis of the automaker’s ignition-switch defect more than a year before the company recalled 2.6 million cars, has retired, the company confirmed Monday.

Federico in 2012 was examining the defect that lower-level engineers first discovered more than a decade ago, according to GM documents released last month by Congress.

But GM failed to order a recall until early this year, and the issue is now blamed for at least 31 accidents and 13 deaths.

His latest title is executive director of global vehicle performance, safety, proving grounds and test labs. Before that, he was chief engineer for global compact, small, mini and electric vehicles, reporting directly to GM CEO Mary Barra, who was then global head of product development.

“After a 36-year career with General Motors, Jim Federico has decided to retire from the company to pursue other opportunities,” GM spokesman Greg Martin said in an email. “We congratulate him on his retirement and wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

Federico’s departure comes nearly a month after GM suspended with pay two engineers that were involved in the decision to change the ignition-switch design without changing the part number.

It also comes about two weeks after John Calabrese, GM global engineering chief, retired voluntarily.

Barra has vowed to hold executives responsible for the company’s failure to promptly fix the ignition switch on 2.6 million small cars, mostly from the 2003 through 2007 model years.

The automaker is now facing investigations from the U.S. Justice Department, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as its own internal probe.