from the unique-series-of-mistakes dept.
James R. Healey reports that General Motors has fired 15 people who either were incompetent or irresponsible in their actions involving fatally flawed ignition switches that are linked to 13 deaths in crashes where airbags failed to inflate. "A disproportionate number of those were in senior roles or executives," said GM CEO Mary Barra. Two high-ranking engineers previously put on paid leave were among them, said Barra adding that five more employees "one level removed" were disciplined in unspecified ways because they "simply didn't take action."
A far back as 2002, General Motors engineers starting calling it the "switch from hell" but it would take a dozen years, more than 50 crashes and at least 13 deaths for the automaker to recall the ignition switch, used in millions of small cars. GM's own internal investigation never explains how a lone engineer in a global automaker could approve a less expensive part that failed to meet GM standards. Nor does it illuminate why the same engineer could substitute an improved design without changing the part number, a move critics cite as evidence of a cover-up. After the first cars with the switch went on sale, GM heard complaints from customers, employees and dealers. But "group after group and committee after committee within GM that reviewed the issue failed to take action or acted too slowly," the report said. A unique series of mistakes was made," said Barra. And the problem was misunderstood to be one of owner satisfaction and not safety. GM engineers didn't understand that when the switches failed, they cut power to the airbags.