General Motors (NYSE:GM), in response to the events that led up to its 2.6 million vehicle recall earlier this year, will be restructuring its engineering department, and splitting it into two divisions with separate leaders to help improve quality and safety, the company says.
GM will form one pillar named Global Product Integrity, and another, dubbed Global Components and Subsystems. Ken Morris, who is now executive director of chassis engineering at GM, will head the product integrity unit. Ken Kelzer, who is currently leading the powertrain engineering arm in Europe, will take over the components and subsystems group, Automotive News reported.
Not wishing to beat around the bush, the changes are reportedly effective immediately. GM product chief Mark Reuss told Automotive News that the restructuring is a ‘direct outgrowth’ of GM’s review of the ignition-switch problem, and added that the retirement of vice president of global vehicle engineering John Calabrese was “in no way connected” to the company’s internal investigation into its failure to recall the faulty switch sooner, the site said.
Reuss said during a conference call with reporters that the new structure will help GM identify potential safety problems such as the defective ignition switch more quickly. Reuss added that the product integrity division will include a team of GM’s “best” engineers to review vehicles for safety compliance at regular intervals as they are being developed, Auto News said.
The same strategy has been employed by GM for years to help in improving steering, ride and handling, and other performance characteristics, he went on, and that engineers will be able to take “a more holistic approach” to locating the root cause of problem parts and examine more closely how flaws in individual components could affect other systems in the vehicle, Auto News quoted.
“It would have expedited a whole bunch of things,” Reuss said of the new format, “with experts that are vehicle-driven, subsystem experts, instead of just parts-driven experts.” General Motors has added another 15 “product investigators” to its original 20 to help oversee reports of crashes, customer complaints, lawsuits, and other data that would be useful to the company in determining safety faults and specific patterns that could be traced to a defect.
General Motors appears to be making all the right motions for making good on its pledge to differentiate itself from the “old GM” that CEO Mary Barra has been so quick to distance the company from. Even prior to the various investigations into the recent recall scandal being complete, GM has already began putting safeguards in place to prevent incidents from happening in the future — and it’s hard to ask for much more than that (though some restitution to victims and their families could be nice, too.)