By on April 23, 2014


Automotive News reports General Motors has split its engineering division in two, with executives Ken Kezler and Kenneth Morris becoming vice presidents of global vehicle components and subsystems and global product integrity, respectively. The split also means vice president of (what was) global vehicle engineering, John Calabrese will retire, though the retirement is alleged to not be linked with the ongoing recall crisis. The immediate changes are the result of the ongoing review of the ignition switch issue affecting the company since early this year, with the aim of flagging potential safety problems within a product sooner than when the division was united. GM product chief Mark Reuss proclaimed the new divisions “would have expedited a whole bunch of things” had they been in place earlier.

The new divisions may have been established too late, however, as Bloomberg reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is readying a new investigation into the automaker, this time involving the brake systems in the 2014 Chevrolet Impala. The probe comes from a report by an owner who experienced several incidences linked to the car’s driver-assist technologies, including one where the collision-avoidance system brought the car to a halt despite no traffic ahead of the vehicle, leading to a rear-end collision instead. The investigation is expected to affect around 60,580 Impalas, and GM is cooperating with the agency in the probe.

In addition, both GM and the NHTSA may find themselves under the gun once more. According to CNN Money, the recall issued in late March affecting 1.3 million Saturn Ions between 2004 and 2007 regarding power-steering issues is the second recall to have taken over a decade to resolve. The agency first received word of the Ion’s problems in 2004, with an investigation opened in 2011 after 4,800 complaints and 30,000 warranty claims were filed, while the automaker didn’t include the Ions in a 2010 power-steering recall despite the Saturn sharing the same part as those affected.

Reuters reports Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is interested in bringing in former GM CEOs before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee over the main recall, especially Dan Akerson, who passed the torch to current CEO Mary Barra in late December of 2013, approximately a month before the recall began. Whether this happens will be up to Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who is in charge of scheduling hearings and selecting who will testify before the committee.

Finally, GM itself filed a motion before the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York earlier this week, asking the court to reinforce the liability protections established when the automaker left bankruptcy, forcing those whose lawsuits came prior to July 2009 to take their fight to “Old GM.” On the other side, the plaintiffs seeking to collect damages from “New GM” over “Old GM’s” negligence filed a proposed class action lawsuit that would prevent GM from using the protections. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber issued an order for a procedural conference May 2 to determine course of action moving forward, proclaiming “no substantive matters will be decided” during the conference.

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11 Comments on “GM Divides Engineering Division, Faces More Recall Woes...”

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    One should see “driver-assist” technologies as, primarily, a way of shifting liability from the driver of the car to the manufacturer when an accident happens. Trial lawyers like this, because manufacturers have much deeper pockets.

    I’m sorry, but call me a curmudgeon if you will, but if its necessary for your vehicle to keep you from running into something in front you, you shouldn’t be driving a car. You should take the bus. If you can’t stay in your lane on the highway and need an automated system to either (a) remind you that your getting out of your lane or worse (b) actually steer you back into the lane, you’re impaired (from fatigue, alcohol, drugs, whatever) and shouldn’t be operating your vehicle, period.

    I completely support ABS systems (although it would be nice if it were defeatable; in snow a car with ABS will take longer to stop than one without it) and stability control/traction control systems (which generally are — and always should be — defeatable). But, as far as I am concerned this other stuff is a menace because either it permits people to drive who shouldn’t be driving or it’s useless and, as this example shows, dangerous when it fails, as it always will, sometime, somewhere.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup ! And a hearty +1 as well .

      But errr …. guess who we have to blame for all these ” Blame Shifting ” technologies on todays cars [ pun intended ]

      That would be …. oh gee … let me think a minute here . Oh yeah .

      The automotive manufactures more concerned with Wonk Techno Wow Factor marketing bs than actually designing and building QUALITY cars . Techno weenie junk being ever so much cheaper to design and manufacture [ especially since 99% of it is manufactured in China – Viet Nam – Cambodia – Thailand etc who all to a number pay slave labor wages ] than Quality is

      But back to the main issue . I’m in complete agreement . If you are incapable – impaired – unwilling or simply too damn lazy to drive responsibly yourself ;

      Take the damn Train – Bus – Taxi … or at worst …. go bum a ride from a willing friend/family member .

      All this Safety Nanny crap costing those of us responsible drivers a bloody goram fortune in order to accommodate the idiots as well as those legitimate unfortunate few incapable of assuming responsibility for themselves

    • 0 avatar

      Haha, my Verano has “forward collision monitoring”. When it detects another vehicle a certain length in front of me, it puts a green icon in the dashboard.

      What a useless feature! My eyes are looking forward, not glued to the instruments.

    • 0 avatar

      “it permits people to drive who shouldn’t be driving”

      No, it’s the various state motor vehicle departments that do that.

      People would be driving, anyway. It’s a good thing when they don’t bang into each other while they’re doing it.

      Whether some of these specific systems work as intended may be another matter.

      • 0 avatar

        In theory, yes. In practice – spend a little time in a trauma center and see how many folks who crash their vehicles are driving without a license/suspended license/or even a stolen car. Then you will see the little old ladies and kids they hit…

        If you really want the State DMV’s to regulate who drives, you’ll have to agree to warrant-less law enforcement stops everywhere, or facial recognition/license plate reader matching technology at every stop light – wait – that might be just around the corner. ? Wear a Nixon mask while driving ?

        • 0 avatar

          I was being a bit sarcastic, and you missed the point that I was actually making.

          The previous poster asserts that nanny devices help to keep bad drivers on the road.

          My point is that the drivers whom he dislikes are going to keep driving, with or without the additional gear. Adding a lane departure warning system to cars is not going to increase the number of drivers on the road.

  • avatar

    GM facing more recall woes .

    Ahhhhhhh….. Yup ! Told you so ! Several times as a matter of fact . But for those who’ve missed out or were not paying attention ;

    To put it bluntly . GMs current recall woes are still but the seagull droppings on the very tip of the very top of a very very deep and extensive Iceberg . With the majority still yet to of been revealed/discovered

    The only real question at hand being . With all the favoritism and protectionism being afforded GM by the US Government at present ; How much of that Iceberg will in fact finally come to the surface ? As well as : What will the Feds do to GM in light of their draconian fines levied upon Toyota ?

  • avatar

    All manufacturers will be facing more recalls. I just have to wait to say told you so like gtrsingr.

  • avatar

    I’d like to see a GM organizational chart – there must be a Global VP in charge of that as well who may be fired next week because he cannot figure it out either.

    I don’t think anyone knows who’s responsible for organizing coffee ar board meetings anymore, let alone who’s in charge of anything important.

    What a mess. OK, so let’s have a VP in charge of Mess. You need someone in charge of flailing around to coordinate the clenched hands and leather dash drop-ons with genyoo-ine stitching.

    Time to retire this crowd and find a new management crew.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Back to the actual topic…
    any bets as to how many of the managers will matrix report ( to the management in the other half of the organisation?

    I’m guessing 50% +, in other words this is just a cosmetic split.

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