GM Axes Global Powertrain Chief & Several Employees Over India Emissions Testing "Ringer Engines" Scandal

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
gm axes global powertrain chief several employees over india emissions testing

Tavera SUVs at GM India assembly plant

Automotive News is reporting that Sam Winegarden, GM’s vice president for global engine engineering, the company’s highest ranking powertrain executive, was fired this week along with about 10 other GM Powertrain employees in the U.S. and India, over cheating in GM’s emissions testing at its Indian subsidiary.

The problems have prompted the company to halt the sale of Chevy’s popular Sail hatchbacks and Tavera SUVs in that country. The local press has reported that GM has admitted to Indian authorities that some of their employees had fudged data on emissions tests in order to meet standards. The news comes at the same time that GM has announced a recall of 114,000 Taveras to fix what it calls emissions and specifications problems.

In a statement, GM confirmed that it has “dismissed several employees” over “violations of company policy” related to the Indian recall but a company spokesman declined to comment about Winegarden.

“We take these matters very seriously and hold our leaders and employees to high standards,” GM’s statement says. “When those standards are not met, we will take the appropriate action to hold employees accountable.”

Sam Winegarden, GM’s now apparently former vice president for global engine engineering

Winegarden, apparently one of those held accountable, was GM’s top engine executive since 2004, and he had worked at the company for his entire adult life. He joined the automaker over 40 years ago as a co-op student at the Buick Motor Division while attending the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University). His resume included a stint in the 1990s as chief engineer for the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Group where he oversaw the development of the Northstar V-8 and premium V-6 engine lines. He later presided over development of the very successful LS family of V8 engines.

The Indian business newspaper Economic Times reported that GM India admitted to Indian regulators that employees violated testing procedures. In some cases engine swaps were done with set-aside engines measured to have lower emissions so the “ringer” equipped SUVs would pass testing.

In a July 18 letter to Indian regulators, GM wrote: “Over a period of time some employees of the company engaged in the practice of identifying engines with lower emission which were fine-tuned and kept aside to be used for installation on vehicles during inspection,” according to the newspaper.

GM also admitted that the reported weight of several models was “manipulated” so the vehicles would be subject to less stringent emission regulations. The newspaper said that the Indian government has set up an investigative committee. GM could face fines and other penalties.

GM India halted production and sale of the Tavera recently, saying the issues were not safety related and that the company “has since identified a solution to the issues and performed the required engineering validation, and is awaiting regulatory approvals.” Last month, GM also stopped production of diesel versions of the Sail, mentioning unspecified quality-control issues. The company plans to start selling the Sail again by August, but so far no recall for affected vehicles has been announced, unlike with the Tavera.

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  • Mikey Mikey on Jul 31, 2013

    As a now retired low life GM, UAW&CAW hourly worker, I have witnessed many costly management blunders. For the most part,they were swept under the rug. The incompetent were shuffled around,and, or promoted. Lousy workmanship was always blamed on the workers. Never on the engineering. When the crappy parts,from the lowest cost supplier broke, or didn't fit? It was the assemblers fault. Never, ever, was the over promoted,overpaid ,kick back taking. purchaser blamed. Nice to see that in the "new and improved" GM, we now have some accountability. It was a long time coming.

    • See 1 previous
    • Mikey Mikey on Jul 31, 2013

      @dr dlds..Thanks for the reply. I agree with you on all points. As far as the UAW/CAW work rules go? That to, has seen much needed change in the last few years.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 31, 2013

    Anyone notice the Tavera looks a lot like the old LaForza from the early 90s?

  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?
  • DenverMike What else did anyone think, when GM was losing tens of billions a year, year after year?
  • Bill Wade GM says they're killing Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Any company that makes decisions like that is doomed to die.
  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.