DETROIT -- General Motors is planning to launch an upscale Denali version of the GMC Terrain crossover, Mary Barra, the automaker's senior vice president of product development, said today.
Barra also defended GM's decision to suspend Chevrolet Volt production because of growing stockpiles, and said GM will soon be launching a Volt advertising and marketing campaign.
Speaking in Detroit at the 50th anniversary of Inforum, a women's economic club, Barra said the company will be releasing more details about the Terrain Denali later tonight.
"The Terrain has been a very important product for GMC, it's done very well … I think it's a natural extension to add that premium version," Barra said. "The Denali is a very premium upscale version. There's room in the marketplace and I think the product is going to do very well."
GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan says the automaker will introduce several new or refreshed vehicles in April at the New York auto show.
Barra defended GM's decision to suspend Chevrolet Volt production because of growing stockpiles.
"We have said all along that we are going to meet supply with demand," she said. "Obviously some of the things that happened toward the later part of last year caused consumers to take note, but we had a very strong February. We're going to wait and see but I think we have a lot of demand right now in Europe so I really believe we are going to see this continual pick-up pace."
Barra said a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation, which began in November, into the risk of fires in the Volt's battery, as well as some political fallout with the hybrid car, has caused a pause with consumers. On Jan. 20, NHTSA closed its study of potential fire risk in the battery pack, concluding that it doesn't appear to outweigh the risk of fire in gasoline-powered cars.
Volt ads coming
She said GM will soon be launching an advertising and marketing campaign to help customers understand the value of the vehicle. She did not say when the ads would appear.
"It's critically important to represent the technological advancement and capabilities of the General Motors global product development team," she said. "I want people to understand it because I believe that's the most important thing to help it do well in the marketplace."
"Clearly it's gotten a lot of attention that I don't think has anything to do with the vehicle necessarily," Barra said. "I think [the advertising] will help the sales momentum and get away from some of the things that I've labeled as misinformation."
Expanded use of e-Assist
Barra also said GM is planning to add its e-Assist technology on more models. She declined to go into detail, but said customer feedback on the existing e-Assist models has been incredibly strong.
She commented on GM's consideration for expanding diesel, saying the release of the Cruze diesel in 2013 is going to be "critically important" in helping the company to assess the demand for diesels in the United States.