What a difference a few millimeters make. Lately, we've heard GM apologizing for the tragic deaths and injuries of GM vehicle owners over an ignition switch problem that caused the vehicles to shut down - and air bags failing to deploy - on 2.6 million vehicles. GM CEO Mary Barra announced the firing of some high-level executives and engineers including Ray DiGiorgio, the switch engineer who'd designed the new switch but failed to put a new part number on it, and Gary Altman, a development engineer.
I looked a diagram of the ignition switches and noticed that the original ignition switch was 10.6 millimeters long, and the replacement switch was 12.2 millimeters long - the longer switch produced more tension to prevent vibration from causing the switch to disengage. It seems like a small problem but one with big consequences.
Since the first announcement, GM has announced the recall of 8.45 million vehicles in North America so far this year. Chrysler has now joined GM in ignition switch recalls.