It’s not every day that a 36-year General Motors veteran retires before their 60th birthday. But today brings news of such a thing happening, as General Motors executive chief engineer of subcompact and electric vehicles Jim Federico announced his unexpected retirement from the company. Federico oversaw development of vehicles such as the Chevrolet Sonic, Spark EV and Buick Encore, and reported to GM head of product development Mark Reuss. Before that, he reported to now-CEO Mary Barra.
Federico, 56, was also executive director of global vehicle integration since September 2013, and launched an internal investigation in 2012 to figure out why airbags weren’t deploying in certain Chevrolet Cobalt accidents, some of which were fatal. According to a Reuters report, Federico’s investigative team analyzed ignition switches from GM models at a junkyard and even asked Delphi Automotive, the supplier of the ignition switch, for help. Eventually the issue stemmed the recall of 2.6 million vehicles.
During this investigation, it was discovered that the switch design had been changed years ago under orders from lead switch engineer Ray DeGiorgio, who has been put on paid suspension by General Motors.
Yet despite the situation pointing to the contrary, General Motors officials claim that Federico’s retirement had nothing to do with the ignition switch recall. Federico’s retirement also follows that of global engineering chief John Calabrese.