Dr. David Cole is the Chairman of AutoHarvest (autoharvest.org), a web based tool to accelerate innovation in the auto industry. Dr. Cole is Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research and a former Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan where he taught courses related to the automotive field for over 25 years. He is a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineering Society of Detroit and Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was recently elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame.
The past few weeks have been most interesting with regard to GM and the ignition switch problems with a number of their early 2000’s compact cars including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. The past few days have been particularly interesting with GM’s new CEO, Mary Barra and her testimony in both the US House and Senate. Her testimony and grilling offered a feeding frenzy opportunity for our media. Of course the story has been building for the past few months when it was discovered that there were few incidences of the failure of an extremely small number of ignition switches where the ignition would cut out with a jostling or bumping on the key ring, particularly if it were heavily loaded with other keys and things normally found on key rings.
There is no question that there is fault with GM and also with the National Highway Traffic Administration, NHTSA, in failing to find the problem quickly and execute a re-call of the impacted vehicles. However there is much more to the story that few people seem to understand. If it were easy to identify the problem and its root cause, the story would have ended many years ago.