How GM Screwed Up Its Ignition Investigation

Engineer struggled with internal roadblocks, changing management

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 14, 2014 10:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – How did GM mess up so badly in addressing its deadly ignition switch glitch? In part it's due to a snafu over a part number and coworker obstruction, documents released by the House committee investigating the recall reveal. The documents sketch the two-year plight of low-level engineer Brian Stouffer as he tried to get to the bottom of the matter, encountering what he saw as resistance from the electrical engineering division headed by Ray DeGiorgio—who was suspended last week, Bloomberg reports. "Early in the discussion, we got push back from Electrical regarding their need to be involved," Stouffer wrote in a December email.

DeGiorgio's unit had quietly fixed the ignition switch in some 2007-model cars, but never changed the part number, leaving Stouffer baffled as to why complaints stopped coming in. In 2012, the company gave Stouffer a list of Cobalt changes that didn't mention it. Management churn hurt, too—Stouffer went through three bosses in one year. GM on Friday recalled yet another 2.19 million vehicles of the same models in response to yet another ignition concern—this time one allowing the key to slip out while the car is on, Autoblog reports. The company said it had "several hundred" complaints.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra listens as she testifies on Capitol Hill, April 2, 2014, before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
In this Aug. 1, 2013 photo provided by General Motors, cars are assembled at the General Motors Spring Hill Manufacturing Plant in Spring Hill, Tenn.   (AP Photo/General Motors)
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Typical General Motors, where one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing, where matters of importance that may cost the company money are sidetracked or dismissed or buried inside
the company. - Maryann Keller, auto analyst

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