GM names new compliance officer amid changes – Detroit Free Press

General Motors said Wednesday that it has appointed Jeffrey Taylor as deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer — the latest sign that the automaker and the automotive industry continues to make adjustments in the wake of a stricter regulatory environment and the automaker’s initiation switch crisis.

Taylor will report to Craig Glidden, GM’s executive vice president and general counsel.

“Jeff is a highly accomplished attorney who has managed extremely complex legal issues,” Glidden said in a statement. “His appointment reflects GM’s commitment to the highest levels of global ethics and the strict compliance with the law and internal policies.”

Taylor will be responsibility for GM’s ethics and compliance program, which involves the company’s, ethical conduct, workplace and vehicle safety and compliance with the law and company policies. That gives Taylor a broader range of responsibility than GM’s previous compliance officer.

The redefined position is part of Glidden’s overhaul of GM’s legal, policy and government relations structure. Glidden became GM’s top lawyer in February 2015 as part of GM’s effort to restructure its internal processes following its high-profile ignition switch crisis.

That crisis forced the automaker to recall 2.6 million cars globally to fix a defect blamed for at least 13 deaths. That recall touched off several rounds of congressional hearings and ushered in a more stringent era of regulatory oversight from the National Highway Safety Administration.

There are more than 200 lawsuits pending against GM in various state and federal courts that allege injury or death caused by defects, including the ignition switches, that were subjects of recalls in 2014.

While the pace of recalls in the U.S. automotive industry has slowed since 2013, there have been several other signs this week that the industry is still adjusting.

In today’s regulatory environment, all automakers are trying catch problems earlier and are recalling vehicles faster than before.

Ford said Wednesday that it would recall about 81,000 sport-utility vehicles to fix a suspension defect and another 201,900 pickup trucks, SUVs and cars to repair a transmission flaw. The vehicles’ rear suspension toe links were poorly welded and could fracture, resulting in loss of steering.

On Friday, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it will recall 1.13 million cars and SUVs to deploy changes to a gear shifter that many consumers find confusing. FCA’s recall is unusual because the gear shifter actually operates the way it was designed to operate, so it’s not technically a “defect.”

FCA decided to recall the vehicles after NHTSA investigators concluded some drivers accidentally leave their vehicles without first selecting “park,”  which can be dangerous — especially if the vehicle is still running.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne downplayed the significance of the recall on Tuesday during a conference call with Wall Street analysts.

“We are talking about a software re-flash of vehicles. We are not doing any physical changes to the vehicle,” Marchionne said.

Still, Marchionne said again that automakers must now set aside more money for recalls than in the past.

“I think we have been incredibly clear over the last number of quarters about the fact that the regulatory environment has become a lot more stringent,” he said. ”I think that the requirements and the imposition that are being made — and I think reasonably so – are going to increase the cost of doing business for all of us.”

Contact Brent Snavely: 313-222-6512 or bsnavely@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrentSnavely.

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