GM CEO Mary Barra: Need the company to be strong for 'several decades'

General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Friday told FOX Business that the closure of several North American plants in November was necessary to keep up with changes in demand.

“This is a transformation, because this is an industry that is undergoing tremendous change,” Barra told FBN’s Gerri Willis from the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. “And so when you look at how quickly customers, especially in the United States, have moved from sedans to crossovers, we needed to make adjustments.”

Last year, the automaker announced plans to slash 15 percent of its salaried workforce and halt production at five plants in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Ontario. In addition, GM is eliminating several car models in the U.S., including the Chevrolet Cruze and the Buick LaCrosse. The decision has drawn criticism from President Trump, who threatened to end subsidies for electric vehicles in the near future.

However Barra said its workers remain a priority.

“We are focused on our team members that are impacted by these decisions,” she said. “There were [2,800] people that were impacted by these announcements in the United States… We had 2,700 potential job openings for them. We already had 1,500 that have already volunteered to go to a new position—700 of them are already on their way and about 1,200… are retirement eligible.”

Barra added that the measures were necessary to keep the century-old automaker afloat.

“When we take steps like this, it’s because we need the company to be strong because we employ 100,000 people in this country alone,” she said. “And having a strong General Motors that can invest in the future that’s going to be here not just for a few years, but for several decades is our focus.”


As part of its transformation in 2019, GM said it’s expecting Cadillac to lead its push into the electric vehicles market, and compete directly with Tesla.

“Cadillac has a tremendous reputation—it’s an iconic brand,” she said. “In the United States we are really focused on how do we grow that brand? It’s by technology and innovation.”

GM on Friday increased its earnings guidance for 2018 and issued a strong outlook for 2019.

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