DETROIT — In the next four to 10 years, General Motors will expand its green products to include more low-emitting diesels, more hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles run by lithium ion batteries.
These advances will come from the money GM saves from its new contract with the UAW, CEO Rick Wagoner told Automotive News.
The new contract lets GM pay new nonproduction employees significantly less than it pays current workers. GM also will be able to outsource work and wipe out some of its $47 billion obligation for UAW retiree health care when a union-run trust takes effect in 2010.
"We're going to be spending a lot more money on these advanced propulsion technologies," Wagoner said.
"If we have a significantly profitable and cash-generating enterprise, that really opens up the opportunity to be more aggressive and take more risks."
Wagoner is less optimistic about removing weight from vehicles, which many automakers did in the 1970s. He said that's harder to do now with the increased safety regulations and customer demand for navigation systems, airbags and other items — all of which add weight.
"I can tell you we are putting a huge amount of sensitivity toward mass, and I will be disappointed if we don't do a much better job at holding the line and showing some improvements in that area," Wagoner said. "I think it's a real opportunity for us. We aren't benchmarked in that area, to be honest."