A new contract with the United Auto Workers, following a six-week strike that ended last week, doesn't place any limits on building electric vehicles, she explained on a call with investors. While union officials are worried that it will take fewer workers to build electric cars, Barra said that change is years away.
GM plans to develop 20 electric models for sale worldwide by 2023, a step toward building an "all-electric future." Fully electric vehicles make up about 1.5 percent of U.S. new vehicle sales, and the LMC Automotive consulting firm predicts it will rise to only 7.5 percent by 2030.
Earlier in the day, GM said the UAW strike had a big impact on its business.
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The labor action, which stalled production for six weeks, erased about $2.9 billion in 2019 net income, or $2 a share. In the third quarter alone, the strike wiped out about $1 billion of profit, or 52 cents a share.
GM's third-quarter results still topped estimates, however, sending shares up 5 percent, to $38.49, on Tuesday afternoon.
Under the new UAW contract, GM's Lordstown, Warren and Baltimore plants would be unused, per the company's original plan. The Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Michigan, which was to be idled as well, would stay open and make electric trucks.
FOX Business' Jonathan Garber and the Associated Press contributed to this report.