With 130 autonomous Chevrolet Bolts running tests in California and Michigan, and a new manufacturing system up for Cadillac's CT6 on two continents, General Motors is putting into motion many of the manufacturing techniques that will help define its future. Overseeing all this is Alicia Boler Davis, a 23-year manufacturing veteran who's enjoyed a meteoric rise from managing various GM plants to becoming one of the automaker's top executives.
The self-driving Bolts were built on the same line as the regular version of the electric car, helping to keep costs down and making GM the first automaker to mass produce autonomous vehicles.
The CT6 ushered in a new era of lightweighting for GM, using a mixed-materials build strategy that combines aluminum, advanced high-strength steel and magnesium with a combination of riveting, bonding and welding.
GM is expected to make the next generation of its full-size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, with mixed materials, instead of going to an all-aluminum body like Ford Motor Co. did with its F series. That shows the confidence GM has in Boler Davis, 48, to manage a complicated manufacturing process on a critical vehicle.
There's plenty of evidence to show she's up to the task, including smooth launches of both the CT6 and Bolt, which are two of the most advanced cars GM has ever built.