General Motors favors a regulatory approach requiring autonomous vehicles to be equipped with steering wheels and brake pedals.
Mary Barra, GM chairman and chief executive, told reporters before the automaker’s annual shareholders meeting that the company prefers regulations that mandate automated, self-driving vehicles to have steering wheels and brake pedals.
The company has made sizeable investments in future technology, including the $1 billion acquisition of Cruise, a start-up company based on San Francisco focused on the development of autonomous vehicles, she said.
“We do think we have a leadership position in autonomous,” Barra said. “It is very important we demonstrate safety. We think having the steering wheel and pedals in the cars is a way to demonstrate safety.”
Despite a slowdown in the pace of new vehicle sales this spring, General Motors’ top executive said Tuesday she expects vehicle sales at or near record levels for the full year.
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Barra said 2015 was a strong year for GM on many fronts, including record earnings and record global sales. “We have continued this strong record in 2016,” said Barra, noting the company produced record profits and boosted its quarterly dividend.
“We continue to be focused on producing sustained long- term growth,” she said. “Our goal is earning customers for life.”
Barra said GM’s overall strategy of concentrating on retail customers and cutting down on its profitable fleet sales has already produced strong profits.
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“We still expect sales to remain at 17.5 million units, but we understand that we are in a cyclical business,” Barra told reporters prior to the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
GM also concentrating on improving efficiency, she said. “That will position us well when the cycle turns,” she said. “We are focused on market share but we are focused on profitable market share,” she said.
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During the meeting, GM also has passed something of milestone during the meeting with election of Jane Mendillo to the board. Half of all of the members of board of directors of GM, which has long been considered one of the cornerstones of American business, are now women for the first time in the company’s history.