Robustness and Reliability of the GM Ignition Switch - A forensic Engineering case

Tobias Eifler, Jonas Lerche Olesen, Thomas J. Howard

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


    This paper uses forensic engineering from the perspectives of Robust Design and Reliability Engineering to review one of the most infamous recalls in automotive history, that of the GM ignition switch. The design, engineering and management failures in this case ultimately resulted in a fine of $35 million, the recall of 2.6 million vehicles and the death of at least 13 people. In a systematic approach, design clarity, tolerance stack-ups, sensitivity analysis, etc. are used to analyse the ignition switch itself and to extend the usual consideration of reliability issues to the impact of variation on the design. In addition to this quantitative analysis, the legal case files have been examined revealing multiple misjudgments and errors throughout the product development process. The analysis revealed a lack of overview regarding to interrelated functionality, a lack of respect for the requirement specification and clarity in the specification itself, and finally a culture of silence rather than confrontation and remedy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the First Internatinal Symposium of Robust Design 2014
    EditorsThomas J. Howard, Tobias Eifler
    Place of PublicationCopenhagen
    PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
    Publication date2014
    ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7475-381-0
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    Event1st International Symposium on Robust Design - Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: 14 Aug 201415 Aug 2014
    Conference number: 1


    Conference1st International Symposium on Robust Design
    Internet address


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