GM CEO Courts Harvard Students With EVs, AVs And Electric Trucks


Barra works to frame GM as an exciting tech leader for young minds

Earlier this month, General Motors‘ CEO Mary Barra spoke at the “Gear Up: The Future of Transportation” in Boston, MA. In attendance were about 200 students from Harvard, MIT and Boston University. Her goal was to capture the attention of the nations top students and get them on board with the possibility of a zero crashes and zero emissions future.

During the town hall style discussion, Barra focused heavily on electric vehicle development and autonomous vehicle (AV) development with GM Cruise. The company will be launching a ride sharing app in 2019 that deploys specially built Chevy Bolt EVs that will be used solely for ride sharing.

We’re the only company working on autonomous that has everything under one roof. But there is very capable competition, and that’s why we have been so aggressive on moving quickly.

Barra does not believe ride sharing will ever completely end vehicle ownership. Autonomous or not “for some people, owning a car is a part of their livelihood” she stated. Plus, people will continue to want to drive “because it’s fun!” So for the foreseeable future, AVs and humans will share the road.

GM Cruise autonomous vehicles

During a Q&A session following her talk, the CEO discussed with students the process at GM when developing new EV and AV technologies. During one interaction, the Detroit Free Press says that Barra “teased” that GM has given a “tiny bit” of thought to producing an electric pickup. Naturally, this prompted additional questions about their plans in this area.

Once pressed for details, Barra reigned in the conversation and declined to comment on future product programs. Thus far, few GM plug-in pickup trucks have hit the market. During the late 90s, Chevy made the S-10 EV pickup available for sale. Via Motors also sold converted electric trucks to fleet customers. When GM inevitably announces a plug-in EV pickup, it will be a huge step forward for the automaker.

Via Motors Conversion Plug-In Pickup

Out with the old: 40% of GMs current salaried employees were hired within the last 5 years

Some students asked about how much these technology changes will impact employment. Will advancements in robotics put line workers out of a job? Will autonomous car sharing eliminate the need for truck drivers, taxi drivers, or other professions? Barra told the students that GM has a focus on “co-bots” in factories. That is to say robots that work in tandem with humans to improve efficiency and productivity. “We’ll use technology where it makes sense from both a financial perspective.” She said.

With any technological shift some jobs might indeed go away. But Barra reminded the students that new jobs will take the place of the old. These new jobs that will require new skill sets. She stated this is the reason why GM has been on a hiring spree over the past 5 years and is focusing on STEM outreach. The company has also been training their engineers in designing not only traditional ICE vehicle development but alternative power trains.

We have to get in front of it with the right education. We can do a lot as an industry and working together with the government and cities to explain how the technology works.

Will there be some bumps in the road? Sure, but we can get past that because we’re doing something that is so much better for society.

Source: Detroit Free Press, GM Authority

Categories: Chevrolet

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29 Comments on "GM CEO Courts Harvard Students With EVs, AVs And Electric Trucks"

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“Will there be some bumps in the road? Sure, but we can get past that because we’re doing something that is so much better for society.”

And, of course, we know that Mary is deeply concerned for doing what’s best for society. That, presumably, is why she puts so much effort into ensuring Tesla remains unable to sell its vehicles in Michigan.

Come on now…seriously?!

And why GM supports weakening both CAFE and Emissions standards.

Who doesn’t?

I don’t.

How many cars you pooped last month?


Or not rapidly produce different EVs with the plants that they have, or build a gigafactory for battery production

I fully support her statements.
Blame Wall Street – she’s only doing what’s best for the shareholders.

Even Tesla is continuously jacking up the price of the TM3 to please Wall Street. Whatever happened to sustainable transportation for the masses?

Barras shareholders are Big Oil and they have had the last word on EVs for the last 20 years.

I blame her she a ceo

She has the right attitude and hopefully she will make the right moves going forward. I like her.

What moves. She let her high brand Caddy brand die, at least she revived Buick but the new president is going back to market the older crowd again

Froggy went a Courtin’ and he did Ride, Uh, Huh.

As much criticism as GM gets and some deserved this is the area I would love to Tesla and Elon Musk grow in. It’s not just about how many cars and batteries you can produce. At some point you have to change the culture both internally and externally. Otherwise you’ll never get beyond the early adopters and fast followers.

Sure T can improve but as for changing culture….they done that already. Only time on the market will get them where they need to go.

They haven’t changed the general culture selling $60k+ cars.

I will ask her when they are going to implement the voltec on thier lineup, if no then I’m going to Tesla

Government Motors, different time same old garbage.

It didn’t take long to get to the part of the article that screams mentioning EV trucks was simply click-bait . A “tiny bit of thought,” followed by changing the subject.

IF Tesla survives, and I hope they do, they’ll have an electric pickup truck before Chevrolet / GMC. Tesla appears to be THE company driving the electric vehicle market.

“If Tesla survives”..??
If GM, FORD & FCA survive you mean?

When are we going to hear more about the new BEV/PHEV CUV? Detroit Auto Show? How about a tease at least, just so we know something is happening.

that’s what i was thinking but we need to understand these big investment programs in development and marketing are secret until revealed so as not to let the competition know in advance. I bet GM will win with Mary Barra running her!

Thank you

Goodness me, this is good news indeed! GM CEO Mary Barra is very tight lipped about future programs and plans from the company that sold us the Bolt EV! But I can tell she and GM will deliver the goods and on time!
Where’s my electric SUV and pick up truck?! The one with over 300 miles range and immense capacity!

GM will be an employer of last resort after Tesla, RNMA, and Jaguar take their pick of the lot.

Only company working on autonomous that has everything under one roof? What part is Tesla supposedly missing?…

An actual autonomous car.

What part of “working on” don’t you understand?