Mary Barra Is Still Committed to General Motors’ EV Push Amid Industry Challenges

"We will be selling more EVs in this country than anyone else, including Tesla," Barra said.

Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors,
Mary Barra is the first woman to lead a Detroit “Big Three” automaker. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

While electric vehicle makers scramble to deal with a sector-wide downturn this year, General Motors CEO Mary Barra remains fully committed to the auto giant’s $20 billion EV push.

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“We will be selling more EVs in this country than anyone else, including Tesla (TSLA),” Barra said in an interview published yesterday (March 28) with Yahoo Finance’s executive editor Brian Sozzi in at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Mich.

Barra, who has worked at GM her entire career, is the first woman to lead one of Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers. This year marks her first decade at the helm of GM. In 2020, she unveiled a set of ambitious plans to invest more than $20 billion through 2025 in GM’s next generation of all-electric and autonomous vehicles. In the longer term, GM aims to transition its fleet to be fully electric by 2035.

Asked where she sees GM in five years from now, Barra said, “I’m working hard to make sure we’re leading in electric vehicles in the countries that we operate. I’m also very focused that we have software that creates a whole new customer experience. And then autonomy, when you think about self-driving vehicles, it really takes us to a safer place.”

“Our vision is to create a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” she added.

GM was the first legacy automaker to go electric. In fact, its EV experiment started even before Tesla became popular. In the late 1990s, GM briefly manufactured a battery-powered compact car called GM EV1. The car was eventually discontinued due to low demand. In 2017, the company introduced Chevrolet Bolt and it soon became the most affordable electric car in the U.S. and one of the top-selling.

“If you go back to EV1, I mean, GM was ahead of its time. And so we never stopped working on EVs and battery technologies,” Barra said. “And then the bolt in the 2015 time frame. But then again as we really started to look at climate change really started to understand where the regulatory environment was going, that’s what led us to do the Ultium platform where we could really provide, be able to do vehicles faster.”

Ultium is a modular electric vehicle platform underpinning a wide range of vehicle types, including cars, SUVs and trucks. “We clearly have to demonstrate that the Ultium platform allows us to have a portfolio of profitable EVs that customers want to buy. Critical,” Barra said of the top items GM needs to execute in order to satisfy shareholders.

“That we have software in our vehicles that enables a better customer experience and easier customer experience, and surprises and delights. And then that we craft the future path for cruise,” she added. “I really think it comes down to doing those three things well while delivering the financial results. And doing the right thing for our owners, our shareholders.”

Mary Barra Is Still Committed to General Motors’ EV Push Amid Industry Challenges