UPDATE 3-Top GM engineer to leave in post-recall reorganization

Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:37pm EDT
 
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(Adds former GM executive comments, details, background)

By Ben Klayman and Marilyn Thompson

DETROIT/WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) - General Motors' top engineering executive, a longtime colleague and key lieutenant of Chief Executive Mary Barra, is retiring in the automaker's highest profile executive change since the massive recall of vehicles with defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.

John Calabrese has worked with Barra in various roles over the past 15 years and has been GM vice president of global engineering for the last three years.

In a reorganization announced on Tuesday, Calabrese's role will split in two to improve vehicle safety, the automaker said.

Global product development chief Mark Reuss, to whom Calabrese reports, said the engineering chief's exit was not related to the recall of 2.6 million vehicles this year. Calabrese, 55, will stay on through August to help with the transition.

Company documents provided to congressional investigators show Calabrese was apprised at least once of major developments of an internal ignition switch probe that led to the recall this year, but his role in the process is not clear, and GM declined to comment.

One former GM executive said Calabrese's exit likely reflected Reuss putting his own team in place in the product development operations rather than a move related to any role Calabrese might have had in the recall.

"I rule out the notion that anyone was sacrificed," said the former executive, who asked not to be identified discussing the turnover. "As with any super big job, at some point you get to pick your team."   Continued...