By Mike Colias, Crain News Service
DETROIT (March 19, 2014) — General Motors Co. has created global safety czar position to “quickly identify and solve product safety issues,” as the company continues to grapple with a crisis touched off by last month's recall of 1.6 million cars for a faulty ignition switch.
Jeff Boyer, 58, will become vice president of global vehicle safety, effective immediately, GM said in a statement March 18. The 40-year GM veteran will oversee all GM product recalls, as well as safety development of vehicle systems.
GM joins Ford Motor Co. as the only other major auto maker with a vice president of safety, according to an Automotive News listing of industry executives.
Mr. Boyer has been executive director of engineering operations and systems development since 2011. Before that, he was executive director of global interior engineering and safety performance, responsible for certification of GM vehicle safety and crashworthiness.
He will report to John Calabrese, GM's global engineering chief, and will become a member of GM's product development staff, led by Mark Reuss, GM's head of global product development, the company said.
GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement that Mr. Boyer will have full access to top GM executives and its board of directors, sending the message that GM's top brass is redoubling its safety focus.
“This new role elevates and integrates our safety process under a single leader so we can set a new standard for customer safety with more rigorous accountability,” Ms. Barra said in the statement. “If there are any obstacles in his way, Jeff has the authority to clear them. If he needs any additional resources, he will get them.”
The announcement comes one day after GM announced three U.S. recalls covering 1.5 million full-sized vans, crossovers and Cadillac XTS models to fix flaws related to brakes and airbag wiring harnesses.
Those problems are unrelated to the ignition switch recall announced last month, which includes six models and 1.37 million U.S. cars from 2003-07 model years and has been linked to 12 deaths. GM has said that engineers discovered a problem as early as 2001, on a preproduction Saturn Ion.