CEO Mary Barra says GM is ‘acting aggressively’ on electric vehicles, says automaker could surpass Tesla

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General Motors is doubling down on electric vehicles. GM is investing nearly $7 billion in Michigan to build a new battery plant and retrofit an existing plant to make electric trucks.

The company says it will create 4,000 new jobs and marks its largest ever one-time investment in electric vehicles. Globally, GM plans to spend $35 billion by 2025 to produce electric vehicles

In an interview with “CBS Mornings,” GM CEO Mary Barra said they all agree on the future of the automaker’s electric vehicles.

“We want to lead in electric vehicles. Period,” Barra told CBS News’ Ben Tracy. “And that’s where we move aggressively.”

Tracy met Barra at Factory Zero, GM’s first assembly plant for zero-emission electric vehicles. It currently produces electric versions of GM’s iconic Hummer brand.

But a huge truck that costs more than $100,000 isn’t what most Americans want or can afford. So GM is now spending $4 billion to renovate its Orion, Michigan plant to start making an electric version of one of its most popular models: the Chevy Silverado pickup truck. The starting price is around $40,000.

“We are the leader in truck sharing in this country,” she said. “It’s a franchise for us. We will defend our position and we plan to develop it.”

The competition is fierce: Ford plans to start delivering its electric F-150 pickup this spring. Tesla promotes its futuristic cyber truck.

Barra said GM is also working on electric vehicles at a price most Americans can afford.

“The Equinox EV crossover will start around $30,000,” she said. “We’re also working on a vehicle that will be even more affordable than that.”

“Customers are starting to be much more interested in electric vehicles, but they want the vehicle they want,” she added.

Barra said the transition to electric vehicles is now inevitable. It is also considered essential for reducing carbon emissions from gasoline-powered vehicles that contribute to rapid global warming.

GM believes it can lower the cost of electric vehicles and roll out new models faster with its customizable battery system called Ultium. This is the platform on which all of its future electric vehicles will run.

Barra is trying to position GM as the leader in electric vehicles, promising to go all-electric by 2035.

“I think we’re incredibly well positioned and we’re not going to cede our leadership position to anyone,” Barra said.

But right now, Tesla controls nearly 70% of electric vehicle sales in the United States, while GM only has about 6% of the market.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently trolled GM on Twitter saying, “Hypothetically, if they made a lot of electric cars, they would be the leader.

Barra remains optimistic. “When you look at the number of vehicles that we’re going to be able to launch in many segments, that’s why by the middle of the decade we think we’ll be in a leadership position,” she said.

Asked if she thinks GM could catch up with Tesla by 2025 or 2026, Barra said, “Obviously that’s what we’re working on from a North American perspective and we’re going to keep going until we have global leadership as well.”

There have been setbacks. Last summer, GM was forced to recall every Chevy Bolt and Bolt EUV due to concerns about battery fires. The recall, coupled with a shortage of critical computer chips, caused GM’s electric vehicle sales to plummet to just 26 vehicles in the fourth quarter of last year.

“It’s always difficult, but one of my mantras is do the right thing even when it’s hard. So it was disappointing, yes, but we did the right thing” , Barra said.

“And what do you say to someone who now says, ‘Yes, I’m interested in buying an electric vehicle, but I’m not sure it’s safe?'” Tracy asked her.

“I think people have to look at who has the experience,” Barra said. “We have a lot of learning embedded in the electric vehicles that General Motors produces.”

And Barra believes guiding GM toward an all-electric future is one of his career highlights.

“It’s going to be a very different business. And, you know, I’ve been at General Motors my whole career and I’m so excited about where we’re going,” Barra said.


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