Jim Federico, a senior engineer at General Motors who influenced development of a wide swath of vehicles—and who investigated the company’s ignition switch issues in 2012—is retiring at the age of 56.
The retirement, announced via an internal email that was leaked to Automotive News, comes as a surprise as Federico has spent the last decade rising through GM’s engineering ranks. He led development of several of the automaker’s biggest selling global products, including the Opel Insignia/Buick Regal, the Chevrolet Malibu, the Chevrolet Cruze, the Chevrolet Sonic, the Opel Mokka/Buick Encore/Chevrolet Trax, and the Chevrolet Spark. Former product czar Bob Lutz highlighted Federico as “a superb engineer” and one of “GM’s very finest” in his 2011 memoir, Car Guys vs. Bean Counters. Most recently Federico has led company-wide efforts at global vehicle integration.
But it’s Federico’s involvement in a 2012 investigation of the defective ignition switches in several GM products that’s now under the spotlight. GM has since recalled 2.6 million cars with the part. Federico was to be deposed in a lawsuit related to the ignition switch, but GM settled the case.
GM says Federico’s retirement, after thirty-six years with the company, is “voluntary” and unrelated to the recall.
“It was his choice to retire, and he is eligible to do so. We congratulate him on his retirement and wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” the company said in a statement. He will pursue “engineering and design challenges outside of the auto industry” the statement added.
Federico’s retirement comes only a few weeks after that of John Calabrese, GM’s vice-president of global engineering.