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GM CEO Barra Wants to Turn a Profit – Soon – on Electric Vehicles

New platform, high volume and cheaper batteries are key.

by on Jan.15, 2018

General Motors CEO Mary Barra recently signed off on a plan to expand the company's portfolio of electric vehicles.

While there are only a handful of long-range electric vehicles on the market right now, you can expect to see as many as two dozen or more in U.S. showrooms by the end of the decade, and several times as many five years from now.

Virtually every major automaker has promised to “electrify” its line-up, and companies like General Motors, Toyota and Daimler AG plan to put a premium on pure battery-electric models. While that may be great news for green-minded auto buyers, there’s a serious flaw in the equation for auto manufacturers, says Woong-chul Yang, the head of R&D for both Hyundai and its sibling brand Kia.

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“Whenever we sell eco-friendly vehicles we all lose money,” the South Korean executive told after presiding over the rollout of the new Kia Niro EV at the Consumer Electronics Show last week. “Even battery vendors are losing money.” (more…)

Barra Squelches Speculation Over Trump Administration Post

GM Chairman says she’s “150% committed” to automaker.

by on Apr.28, 2017

GM CEO Mary Barra, who serves on an industry forum advising Trump, said she is "150% committed" to GM.

General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra flatly rejected the idea that she might be preparing to accept a job in the administration of President Donald Trump.

Barra said during a conference call with analysts and journalists following the release of GM’s first quarter financial that she was “150 % committed” to her job at the auto giant where she has worked for the past 37 years, including the past three as CEO.

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“I am 150% committed to this company,” she said, adding that personally she finds it to be an incredibly exciting time to be working at GM during a period when the auto industry is on the verge of a technological revolution. (more…)

GM Rabblerouser Critcizes Making Barra Chairman

Investor says Barra should remain focused on CEO duties.

by on Jan.14, 2016

General Motors investor Harry Wilson says adding the chairman's responsibilities to Mary Barra's duties as CEO is a mistake.

The decision of the General Motors Board of Directors to name Mary Barra as chairman as well as chief executive officer is a mistake, according to the leader of the hedge fund who pressured GM into approving a multi-billion dollar stock repurchase program last year.

“I think Mary has done a terrific job. But if you wanted to promote her, give her a raise,” said Harry Wilson, chairman and CEO of the MAEVA Group LLC, who noted that the broader trend is to separate the CEO job from the chairmanship because the two roles are, or should be, quite different.

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Barra was named chairman of the GM board last week. Except for short periods of time, the roles of chairman and chief executive have been combined ever since the retirement in 1956 of the company’s legendary chairman Alfred P. Sloan. Sloan himself served as both chairman and CEO for more than two decades. (more…)

GM Celebrates 500 Million Vehicles with New $174M Investment

Maker announces next piece of three-year, $5.4 billion plan.

by on May.04, 2015

GM's Fairfax, Kansas, plant produced the maker's 500-millionth vehicle today and received news the company is investing $174 million in facility upgrades.

General Motors Co. marked a huge milestone today – the company’s 500th millionth car rolling off the assembly line at the automaker’s assembly plant in Fairfax, Kansas – by announcing it would invest $174 million into the plant.

Alan Batey, president of GM North American Operations, announced GM will invest $174 million in the Fairfax plant for new equipment and technology to support production of the 2016 Malibu and improve customer satisfaction. The plant, which builds the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse, opened in 1987. It replaced an outmoded plant in Kansas City, Missouri, and today employs 3,500 hourly and salaried workers.

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One element of the improvements in the Fairfax plant is the construction of a “Shake and Rattle” booth, which simulates any road condition a customer might experience – and identifies sources of noise so they can be fixed. (more…)

500 Million and Counting

GM no longer sets the lead – but competitors have a long way to go to catch up.

by on May.04, 2015

General Motors CEO Mary Barra (center) tours the GM Fairfax Assembly plant with Plant Manager Bill Kulhanek and UAW Local 31 President Vicki Hale during the celebration of the 500-millionth vehicle.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra put in an appearance today at the maker’s Fairfax, Kansas, assembly plant, as part of a celebration meant to mark the roll-off of the 500 millionth vehicle the company has produced during the last 106 years.

While scholars might quibble a bit – this is, after all, the “new,” post-bankruptcy GM – few would deny the significance of this milestone. Industry observers say no other manufacturer has so far come close to the half-billion mark, and likely won’t for a number of years.

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But while this might allude to the days when General Motors dominated the global auto industry like no other manufacturer, it is today far from the towering monolith of decades past. In fact, it very well could slip to fourth place among global automakers this year, at least when measured by global unit sales. (more…)

Barra Leads GM Trip Exploring Growth in India

Maker searching for ways to avoid pitfalls.

by on Sep.12, 2014

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and GM India Managing Director Arvind Saxena roll out the first Chevrolet Beat for export from the GM Talegaon manufacturing facility in India.

For the world’s automakers, India is a land of unlimited potential. It has a large, well-educated and growing middle-class with an entrepreneurial tradition and a dynamic culture that has spread its influence around the world.

General Motors certainly is no exception when it comes to its interest in India. In fact, Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, and several board members traveled to the country to gain more insight into how the automaker can avoid the pitfalls other automakers have experienced.

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The auto industry in India has been hobbled by seeming intractable infrastructure problems that have limited the attraction of automobiles despite the rising incomes from India’s proficient tech culture. (more…)

Akerson Claims Didn’t Know about GM’s Cultural Issues

Former CEO lauds Barra’s handling of crisis.

by on Jul.28, 2014

Former GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson said he was unaware of how deep the company's cultural issues ran.

Former General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson now knows what he didn’t know then: the automaker’s cultural problems ran deeper than he realized when signed on in 2009.

Appointed by the Obama Administration to the automaker’s board and later taking over as CEO in 2010, Akerson told the Detroit News that recent recall crisis shows him that the problems with the company’s culture were worse than he imagined.

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“I think we all — including the new and the old part of the management team — didn’t fully realize how deep some of the problems ran,” said Akerson. “I think we built a good foundation. I think the company needed a lot of change, and I said a lot of that culture wasn’t where we wanted it to be.” (more…)

Barra Withstands Scrutiny of Congressional Subcommittee

GM CEO assures seeds of cultural change have been planted.

by on Jun.18, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra answers a question during a congressional hearing.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra managed to avoid the wrath of House representatives during her testimony today by providing enough information about her plans to change the company’s culture to avoid a repeat of the ignition switch recall.

“I will not rest until this problem is solved,” she said. “As I told our employees, I am not afraid of the truth.”

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Her appearance today was her second before the subcommittee, whose questions and comments generally focused on three issues: GM’s corporate culture, the establishment of a fund to compensate victims and when the vehicles will all be repaired. (more…)

GM’s Barra Readies for Round Two before Congress

House subcommittee expected to demand answers to tough questions.

by on Jun.18, 2014

GM CEO Mary Barra will testify the automaker's failures in handling the ignition switch recall before a U.S. House subcommittee again today.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra got a rough reception during her first appearance at a congressional hearing, and after nearly 18 million recalled vehicles and a scathing report about the automaker’s shortcomings round two isn’t likely to be any better.

Barra and Anton Valukas, the former U.S. Attorney hired to investigate why the company failed to act sooner to fix the ignition switch problem on 2.6 million vehicles, will testify today about his report and what Barra plans to do to make sure this kind of problem doesn’t resurface in the future.


“I want this terrible experience permanently etched in our collective memories,” she plans to tell the committee in her opening remarks. “This isn’t just another business challenge. This is a tragic problem that never should have happened. And it must never happen again.” (more…)

GM’s Barra Tells Graduates to Work Hard, Be Fair

CEO says future leaders must be proactive problem solvers.

by on May.05, 2014

General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivered the University of Michigan's spring commencement address over the weekend.

True to her blue-collar roots, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra told nearly 10,000 undergraduates from the University of Michigan that hard work can trump talent and encouraged them to remain optimistic about the future.

Barra gave the commencement speech at U-M this past weekend providing the soon-to-be graduates with several pieces of advice.

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“Never underestimate the effect that you can have on others in actions large and small,” noted Barra, the first woman to serve as GM’s CEO. Last week, Barra was named one of the 100 “Most Influential” Americans by Time magazine. (more…)