Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, said manufacturing fans changed the company’s culture

Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, said manufacturing fans changed the company’s culture

GM has a goal of selling only electric vehicles by 2035.

Photo: MANDEL NGAN / Getty Images

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said Thursday that the automaker learned a valuable lesson last year when it stepped in to boost emergency production of respirators to treat seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

The company was able to help a small respirator manufacturer to boost production at scale in less than a month. That gave GM confidence that it could accelerate other tasks, such as bringing electric vehicles to market more quickly, Barra said.

“Doing the fan project was a game changer from a General Motors perspective, from a culture change perspective,” Barra said in a broad conversation with members of the Detroit Automotive Press Association.

Barra said that in the past, GM’s management team would have resisted when told it had to help a company that makes 250 fans a month. speed production up to 30,000 in just 150 days.

Instead, the employees approached the problem as if their loved ones might need the respirators and achieved the goal, Barra said. Still, the company was accused by former President Donald Trump of moving too slowly.

In March of last year, GM put hundreds of workers on the project to help Seattle-area Ventec Life Systems increase production at a time when it was feared the country would run out of respirators.

To achieve its objective, GM contributed capital and converted an electronics factory in Indiana to help make respirators at high speed.

Barra said the company now uses the same approach to produce their own electric vehicles, software and driver assistance systems.

Learned lessons

GM announced his plans to build four battery factories in North AmericaOne of them will be located in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Barra also said that it is much more difficult to make electric cars for a larger market than it is to sell luxury vehicles to just a portion of buyers.

He also clarified that the company’s shares are undervalued when compared to Tesla, Rivian and Lucid Motors, which are startups and with high market valuations that focus exclusively on electric vehicles.

Barra also reported that he does not believe that the company will again have huge stocks of vehicles with dealers now that it has overcome the global shortage of computer chips.

General Motors also announced an agreement to supply rare earth metals and ions for electric vehicle motors in a factory that will be built in Fort Worth, Texas in 2023.

GM aims to sell only electric vehicles by 2035 So the moves come at a time when automakers are scrambling to source parts for what is expected to be the drastic change from internal combustion engines. to zero-emission electrical power for the next 10 years.

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