General Motors CEO Mary Barra On 2016 Chevrolet Volt – Video


Yesterday, General Motors CEO Mary Barra addressed the Detroit Economic Club.  During the address, Barra revealed several new details on the next-generation 2016 Chevy Volt.

Video of the address is found above, while Barra’s prepared transcript is posted in its entirety below:

DETROIT – General Motors CEO Mary Barra addressed the Detroit Economic Club on Tuesday. Her prepared remarks are below. As always, the speaker’s words are definitive.


Thank you, Sandy, for that kind introduction, and thanks also to Beth and the Detroit Economic Club for having me here today. This is the perfect setting to talk about a number of dramatic and unprecedented changes taking place in the auto industry, and what this means for GM, the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan.

In the 100 years-plus since the auto industry sprang up in our community, there have been many transitional periods. I believe we are in one of those periods again.

In fact, I believe this industry will experience more dramatic change in the next decade than it has in the past 50 years. Given what we have all witnessed in just the last few years, this is a bold prediction, I know. But it can be unbelievably exciting as well.

At GM, we are energized by this prospect. I tell my team that our generation of leaders has the opportunity and the great challenge of reimagining the company and the industry. The potential benefits for all of us who call Detroit home are enormous. This includes our business partners – dealers, suppliers and unions, including UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who is here today and who played such a key role in our success.

Look at the forces of change sweeping through the automotive sector…

Technology advancements are revolutionizing the industry. New propulsion systems, alternative fuel sources, lighter and stronger materials, self-driving vehicles and 4G LTE, to name but a few.

Rapidly growing markets in Asia are causing every company to rethink its business plans.

New competitors are emerging, including some in Silicon Valley.

Underlying each of these areas of change is the evolving nature of consumer expectations. What consumers want and expect from cars and trucks and crossovers is undergoing a revolution.

Consumers expect their vehicles to be safer, more reliable and more fuel efficient.

They are concerned about congestion and climate change.

They want better communication, navigation and entertainment capabilities in their vehicles.

They want to personalize their vehicles to fit their lifestyle. And they want ultra-convenient service.

I could go on. The point is, our customers are speaking forcefully and thoughtfully about what they want us to address. By listening carefully to their hopes, concerns and expectations… and applying our talent and resources… we can develop solutions that demonstrate the customer is truly at the center of everything we do.

If we do this, we will earn customers for life. This is how we intend to compete and win. By getting closer to the customer than any other auto manufacturer.

As I stand here today, GM is a company with many strengths. But I also know we must improve significantly and rapidly. These are the facts. Complacency and over confidence have no place in the global automotive industry… and no place at our company.

It is in this context that I want to talk with you today about the future of GM and the implications for our region.

Since 2009, GM has announced more than $11 billion in investments in the U.S. Almost half of that investment has been committed to Michigan. And I’m pleased to announce today that GM will make an additional investment of nearly $300 million in this region before the end of the year.

These investments lead to quality jobs. In fact, we have worked with our UAW partners to develop initiatives that will lead to more than 22,600 jobs in the United States. Hiring has begun for many of the positions and will continue over the next few years, and many of these jobs will be based right here in Michigan.

In case you think I’m just here to be a cheerleader for a Michigan, think again. We don’t invest in this region or create jobs here out of nostalgia or misplaced sentimentality. What matters in this industry is excellence, value and world-class skills. We don’t invest here because we want to be popular. We invest here because we believe the talent and ingenuity of this region are key components in our plan to win globally. That’s the only standard that matters.

So let’s review three areas where we know we can excel locally.

Many of you already know that OnStar is delivering the world’s largest automotive deployment of high-speed, 4G LTE mobile broadband. But that’s just the beginning.

In the next two years, we are going to start connecting cars to each other, and the world around them, using a wireless technology called V2X.

V2X encompasses both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology. It’s a game-changer for safety, because when enough cars share information about such factors as speed, direction and braking, we’ll be able to reduce crashes dramatically.

Cadillac will take the lead for our company. The 2017-model year CTS, to be built in Lansing, will be the first GM vehicle to carry V2X technology. And we believe it will also be the first for the U.S. industry.

GM is also joining forces with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the University of Michigan and other automakers to create V2X-enabled corridors on 120 miles of metro Detroit roadways.

This will provide connected cars almost instantaneous information about traffic conditions, road and lane closures and more. The first “connected corridor” will be the stretch of I-96/I-696 from US-23 in Brighton east to I-94 in St. Clair Shores, which has some of the heaviest traffic volumes in the state.

Again, the reason it will happen in Southeastern Michigan is because we have the scientists and engineers and expertise to lead the world in this critical area.

Another area where GM has placed a significant bet is in the electrification of the automobile. We introduced the Chevy Volt in late 2010 and in the intervening four years we have learned a lot about both the challenges and the promises of designing, engineering, manufacturing and selling an electric vehicle.

The scorecard on the first generation Volt is good, but not everything we wanted. We sold fewer than we expected. But, again, we have learned so much, including that breakthrough technology doesn’t always advance in a straight line.

Being first movers in this segment, we now understand the customer and value equation much better, and we are determined to make even more significant technology improvements in the electric vehicle space.

Our nearly 70,000 Chevy Volt customers absolutely love their vehicles, which have collectively traveled over half a billion all-electric miles. And in surveys done by outside parties, the Volt consistently ranks among the highest in customer satisfaction scores.

Customers love the Volt because it does exactly what it was intended to do: provide a no-gasoline option for drivers who use their vehicles less than 40 miles per trip, with a range-extending gasoline motor. Our data shows that Volt owners who regularly charge their vehicle typically drive more than 970 miles between fill-ups.

That’s like driving from Detroit to the Florida state line without ever stopping at a gas station! And, depending on their personal driving habits, Volt owners routinely report getting the equivalent of 100-200 miles per gallon.

Those are impressive numbers, and one of the many reasons why we believe electric vehicles will play an important role in the future of GM.

So at the Detroit Auto Show in January, we will introduce our next generation Volt. When it launches in the second half of 2015, it will represent a significant leap forward in technology, design and overall refinement. It will store more energy in its battery pack with fewer cells, yet go further on a charge. It will accelerate faster. And the car’s gas generator will come from an all-new GM engine family and use even less fuel.

The Volt is a leap forward in automotive technology, and it has already had a profound impact on this region. Of the more than $5 billion GM has invested in Michigan since 2009, over $1.8 billion of that amount was dedicated to make our state GM’s global center of excellence for vehicle electrification.

This investment helped make our Brownstown Township facility the country’s first high volume lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing site operated by a major automaker.

It helped fund new body shop tooling, equipment, and additional upgrades at our Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, which builds the Volt.

And it will also allow us to build the next-gen Volt’s gas engine in Flint.

Now we are prepared to go the next step. Along with the investment news I mentioned earlier, the second announcement I am pleased to share today is that we will build the new Volt’s electric drive system in Warren.

This means that all of the Volt’s major components – the battery cells, the battery pack, the electric drive unit, and the gas motor – will be made in Michigan.

For GM, this electrification technology is an important element of our global business plan. And we are determined that this region will be the recognized global leader of electric vehicle development.

As I close in on completing my first year as CEO, I am frequently asked what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed. I won’t burden you with a full review today, but let me tell you one thing I appreciate more and one way I’ve changed.

First, as many of you know, I got my MBA at Stanford. I know Silicon Valley and I respect the entrepreneurial spirit that region represents. But I also know that Silicon Valley doesn’t have a corner on the market for innovation, creativity and drive. These qualities exist here – in this region – as well. It’s the responsibility and opportunity for all of us in this room today to do a better job of tapping into this enormous potential.

Second, I have become impatient. I want to win. Not get by. Not hold on. Not be competitive. But win.

I want GM to excel. To build relationships with customers for life. To be the most valued automotive company in the world. Some will say these ambitions are too bold… too aggressive. I don’t think so at all.

If we aren’t here to win, to lead, to excel, why are we here?

Johan De Nysschen, our new President of Cadillac commented recently in Automotive News that our competitors are “…absolutely 100 percent immersed in annihilating the opposition.”

He’s right. This is reality. And we must be equally determined to prevail.

I want it understood that the day of GM being a polite competitor is over. We will be professional. We will be ethical, of course. But we will be tough, unrelenting competitors. And everyone who cares about the success of the company and this region should expect nothing less of us.

Today, I tell you I believe in GM more than ever. I also believe in the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan. Our fates have been linked for more than 100 years. Going forward, we are going to make a lot more great history together.

Thank you for having me here today.

Categories: Chevrolet, Videos


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33 Comments on "General Motors CEO Mary Barra On 2016 Chevrolet Volt – Video"

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“GM being a polite competitor is over”
Is she taken on Tesla?

Close you got the first and last letter right.

GM has some advantages over Tesla when it comes to cost of hiring. Detroit is way cheaper for hiring due to lower home prices, compared to Silicon Valley. Detroit also has plenty of trained auto workers.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Fremont isn’t quite SV, and presumably automation and nonunionism have enabled Tesla to reduce the # of lower-skilled workers that would have more trouble living even east of SV.

Why don´t they make plug in or even better EV big pick up? No one annouced it for at least next 3-4 years. No competition there. If done right they can sell 100.000s per year.

F150 sized pickups are heavy and not very aerodynamic. To get any meaningful pure electric range you’d need a pack the size of a LEAFs and much more powerful drive electronics and motors. Right now I’d guess the price premium on a plug-in F150 truck with 30-40 miles of range would be around $20k. That would be a really tough sell.

This product already exists. Google Via Motors. They use GM products. (it’s ran by Bob Lutz)

…and they’re a tough sell. Looking at their website, it looks like it’s about a $16k premium (but it doesn’t clearly say it anywhere). That gets you 40 miles of pure electric range.

Before they took down the price. It used to show a sale price of about $80,000. Pretty healthy premium over a normal truck.

Thx for getting the Volt news out so fast.

I really appreciate it.

The speech seemed very “Anti=Tesla, Anti-Silicon Valley” to me.

Fair Competition is a great thing. It makes companies do wonderful things they would not otherwise do.

But Lazy Competition, is lobbying politicians into blocking sales of your competitors products and services– instead of making better products yourself. The “litigate instead of innovate” approach, plays badly in the marketplace…

Just make better vehicles, GM. And your customers will choose the ‘winning’ product on their own.

“Anti”? no. I didn’t see anything negative.

Thank you Ms. Barra for making the Volt even better! Now, what can you do as far as improving the old style (snake pit) Dealership franchise model? Trying to shut-down Tesla’s sales model doesn’t improve my experience with the Dealers I would have to take my Volt to.

Is she practicing to run for political office or something?

Mary Barra has more balls than the last three guys in her role. And she’s homegrown, not one of these rent-a-CEOs.

+1. This speech really impresses me. If Mary has the board behind her, the cultural revolution that started in GM in 2009 post-bankruptcy will accelerate in her tenure.

She mentioned about learning hard lessons of “how to sell” electric vehicles from the gen 1 Volt. Like learning from Nissan and Tesla. Also, at the online chat session, GM said the next-gen Volt marketing will focus on “digital and California”. That tells me they may be planning an innovative pilot marketing/sales/service strategy that may break the traditional factory/dealer model – new EV-specific dealers, on-line direct sales with no-haggle pricing, on-site servicing, pushed software updates, etc.

It was clear to me the tragic ignition switch recall fiasco really impacted her. I suspect behind the scenes, she has been like an angry momma bear with the culture that permitted it to happen. Heads have probably rolled.

This is all good…I won’t sweat the details of what I “wish” GM would do, Volt-wise or otherwise, and enjoy continuing to watch the unfolding story of one very old company adapting to a changing market in a changing world.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I’ll believe it when I see the 200mi Equinox EV.

The message is pretty clear…

“We see the innovation threat from Silicon Valley, but we’re not going to roll over. We’ll engage all our considerable resources to respond, and we’ll win.”

And there is no question that GM had some of the best automotive engineering resources available anywhere, far, far beyond the resources available to companies like Tesla. The Volt is proof of that.

The basic problem is the Detroit isolationist culture which tends to respond to outside threats rather than innovating internally. The same thing happened 35 years ago when Japan focused on manufacturing and quality. Detroit eventually proved they have the skills and resources to build quality, but it wouldn’t have happened without the extant threat from Japan.

Now the threat is Tesla and electrification. Tesla offers new ideas which are widely catching on. Mary Barra correctly identifies the threat and boldy says we can take it on and win. And they will. But her eloquent speech glosses over the real tragedy of Detroit, which is why did they not come up with the ideas in the first place.

I would identify the problems of US big auto as lying in other areas.

GM engineered the Volt brilliantly.

They find it difficult to develop, or finance, a long term technical plan encompassing all their cars and platforms the way VW has done though.

Part of the reason for that is the US system of having immensely well paid CEO based on short term results, with huge golden parachutes if things go wrong.

Contrast that with Honda, for instance, where all the top execs took a pay cut to recognise their failure to deal with reliability issues.

Couple that with legacy issues, such as the US’s peculiar, and peculiarly expensive to companies health care system, and it is difficult to either be fully competitive or to plan strategically.

I respect the impact of what you mention, but think that underneath Barra’s “win” is a conflicting motive to be profitable. Like any other investment, the cash flows can come now, or latter. GM’s own shareholders, and board, direct it to compromise profit tomorrow, for investment in the future. This is where they, and VWG are much more similar than, say, the shareholder culture of Tesla.

I think GM could win very easily. But, assuming she means what she says, she’ll need to capture one of the oldest, stodgiest boards in corporate America.


“And there is no question that GM had some of the best automotive engineering resources available anywhere, far, far beyond the resources available to companies like Tesla. The Volt is proof of that”

Amen brother

The problem is that GM is willing to kill people over $1.

GM has brilliant engineers. That has never been a problem. As their US market share went from 60% to 18% they had brilliant engineers. They simply are ignored by the bean counters and MBAs.

If GM had half a clue they would be selling a Voltec Crossover yesterday. GM has already lost and are simply in between bankruptcies.

Well, we’ll see. China can absorb huge amounts of anything, and with their pollution problem they are obviously looking to electrify most everything. The Cadillac Escalade hybrid already has 2 electric motors in it. If they can shoehorn in 48 kwh of battery, put in a 6.6 kw (or use 2 of the existing 3.3’s) charger, and put in a v6 ecotec range extender, they’d sell like hotcakes in China because they have a lot of well paid Communist Party members. Use the same deal for GMC here on the truck platform and you’d make VIA sweat bullets. I think we are waiting for the moment when these vehicles are PROFITABLE. Since the battery cost keeps decreasing, and a PHEV does not need a huge battery to begin with (the above setup would give you around 80 All Electric Miles during the spring, summer and fall), and the LONGEVITY of the entire package would be economic to large fleet buyers. Yes the initial cost is more now, but the lifecycle cost of the entire vehicle is lower since it will last so much longer… BYD does this with their very expensive buses. FIrst cost is high but over a 15… Read more »
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater
I think we are waiting for the moment when these vehicles are PROFITABLE. Since the battery cost keeps decreasing, and a PHEV does not need a huge battery to begin with (the above setup would give you around 80 All Electric Miles during the spring, summer and fall), and the LONGEVITY of the entire package would be economic to large fleet buyers. Yes the initial cost is more now, but the lifecycle cost of the entire vehicle is lower since it will last so much longer… Volt already is profitable at the margin, since it costs less to build one than its end price. Volt’s “losses” relate to R&D, tooling, etc., that are factored into the cost of each car. Therefore, the more Voltec vehicles GM sells, the larger the pool of vehicles across which to amortize those losses. Therefore, GM really needs to be dropping Voltec into everything, _especially_ trucks that have amortized and written down their tooling and dev costs over decades. An Escalade or Yukon with Voltec in the front, batteries where the trans and driveshaft tunnel would be, and 150kW of short-geared electric motor in the back would be an exceedingly good way to amortize such… Read more »

Changing the Culture at GM is far harder than anyone can imagine.

Like most people already said, it is NOT the engineering that is the problem at GM. It is the culture of short term view and bean counters that are the problem.

Change that culture and GM will become very profitable and successful. When GM had 60% of the market, it had innovations and dominated its competition on technology and design…

GM needs to revamp itself from within…

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Like most people already said, it is NOT the engineering that is the problem at GM. It is the culture of short term view and bean counters that are the problem.

Seriously. The amount of talent and skill gone to waste at GM, you’d think they were a government agency. They had turbine cars in the friggin 1950s!

Still no Spark EV in other states other than CA and OR. So… if you live in any other state than CA and OR and want a pure electric vehicle forget about GM.

If the car was that great, people would buy them from dealers that can get them and ship them home. However, I don’t think that many people are doing that with the Spark EV. People do it with other more capable EVs.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I’d be most concerned with getting service, I doubt dealership service garages have the tools or training for compliance EVs outside the states they’re sold in (or even the dealers that sold them)…

The car is that great!!! I have one in New York State. I also have a Volt. I love the Volt but actually like the Spark even better.

One needn’t look far beyond clicking on the Monthly Plug-in Sales Scorecard above ( to see GM has serious issues with their EV/technology leadership. Ms. Barra is correct that engineering and capability to innovate are not a limiting factor for GM but their management, sales, marketing, and dealers certainly are. The fact that the Volt sells in limiting volumes nearly equal to Model S and PiP plus 7k less YTD than the severely limited range Leaf, speaks volumes. GM is clueless about the potential of Voltec or simply does not want to sell many of them. There is no convincing argument that can be that those three vehicles have anywhere near the potential market of $26.7K post fed credit Volt. Limiting marketing to CA and digital for gen II Volt just means more of the same. It is clear to me that based on the Volt’s capabilities, price, owner satisfaction, and car awards the Volt hasn’t failed GM but rather the opposite. Now gen II is 3/4 announced with some nice enhancements but virtual zero corporate direction or initiative, just more of the same. “We’ll sell it in California and where the customer finds us.” That is crappy leadership IMO.… Read more »

“If we aren’t here to win, to lead, to excel, why are we here?”

To provide the best and safest vehicles to our customers?