GM smooths out vehicle programs
Mary Barra: GM makes progress consolidating its global platforms.
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
DETROIT -- As a girl, Mary Barra explored every inch of the new vehicles that her father brought home from his job as a die maker for General Motors' Pontiac Division. Today, she casts that same critical eye on GM's $15 billion vehicle-development program.
Barra told the Automotive News World Congress that she spent her first year as GM's product chief eliminating the on-again, off-again nature of its vehicle programs.
"That can really demoralize our designers and engineers," Barra said. Until recently, she said, the problem drained about $1 billion annually from GM's bottom line.
Barra said GM has eliminated "the lion's share" of those losses by fine-tuning product development to avoid program cancellations and major changes.
A year ago, GM CEO Dan Akerson tapped Barra, now 50, to be GM's global product chief.
Barra said GM is making progress consolidating its global vehicle platforms, a goal GM first publicly discussed in August. GM has increased the number of vehicles built on its major platforms to half of its global sales today from 30 percent in 2010.
By 2018, GM wants to have 14 platforms globally, down from 30 in 2010. Barra says that by then, 90 percent of GM's vehicles will be built on major platforms.
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