General Motors is probably the leading automobile manufacturer in the world. It has seen super successful years in all of its markets. But somehow GM India just cannot get out of trouble recently. The Tavera issue has still not been put to sleep and the things at the company are turning from bad to worse. GM India had announced that it is recalling 1.14 lac Tavera units from the market which included the Tavera BS III and Tavera BS IV. The company was investigating the matter and looks like it has finally found the root cause of this mess. The company as a result of its findings has fired the Vice President of global engine engineering, Mr. Sam Winegarden, along with 10 other power train employees.
Mr. Sam Winegarden, has been the head engine executive since the year 2004. He has been supervising the production and development of engines for all the GM cars in Indian line up. He has been a part of the GM since 1969 when he was just a co-op student at GM institutes. In 1990s he became the chief engineers of the Cadillac group. He has worked on the Northstar V6 and V8 engines which are still used by Cadillac.
The problem began during an inspection by ARAI which found out that there were some quality issues with Sail UV-A hatchback and sedan The ARAI also found that Chevrolet Tavera BS III was having some emission problem. Due to this the company had stopped the production of Sail on 5th while Tavera BS III came to a halt on the 6th of June 2013. When GM was trying to control the situation and resume the production, another specification related issue with the Tavera BS IV came up. As a result GM had decided that it will recall 1.14 units of Tavera, manufactured between 2005 and 2013, from the market. GM had said that Sail will resume its production by end of July while Tavera case was been investigated. Even though the cars were being recalled, GM still needed to know as to what could have caused such a major issue.
Now it has been found out that the employees at the company were behind all this. ARAI had found that the Tavera BS III had failed to comply with the emission norms. The problematic engines were the turbo charged 2.5 liter diesel engine supplied by AVTEC and the turbo charged 2 liter diesel engine by ICML.
It has been revealed that the employees at GM were manipulating the engine so that the test vehicles could pass. These employees were replacing the test model engines with tuned engines which had lower emissions so that they could pass. At times the weight of the engine was played with so that the authorities place lower limits on it. While the production models were being fitted with BS III non compliant engines. As a result the Tavera BS III was polluting the environment more than the stated limit which was found by ARAI. This forced GM to not only halt the production but also recall the product from the market.
A newspaper had revealed that GM had informed the Indian officials regarding this activity at the company in a letter sent on th 18th July. It said that “Over a period of time some employees of the company engaged in the practice of identifying engines with lower emission which were fine-tuned and kept aside to be used for installation on vehicles during inspection.”
As a result the company announced a product recall on the 24th of July and also signed termination letters for Mr. Sam Winegarden as well as 10 other employees, in the same week. Some officials might be transferred if not terminated. 2 officers who were transferred to the North American branch a few years ago might also come under scrutiny. Regarding this strict action against the defaulters, GM official said that “We take these matters very seriously and hold our leaders and employees to high standards. When those standards are not met, we will take the appropriate action to hold employees accountable.”
As if now, GM has said that they have found a solution to fix the emission issue with Tavera and a detail of this has been sent to the government for approval. It is expected that Tavera will resume its production by the end of August.