General Motors CEO and chairwoman Mary Barra believes that even with the move to ride-sharing and mobility services, there’s still a future for driver-owned vehicles. Speaking at an Automotive Press Association event in Detroit, Barra said that there isn’t an industry that technology isn’t disrupting and that dealers need to adapt to changes happening in the automotive sector. However, driver-owned models will be still be the core part of GM’s business in the near future despite the growth of ride-sharing.
“The transformative technologies–electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles–provide an opportunity to grow, again, where it makes good business sense. If you look at where ride-sharing is the most popular, it’s in dense, urban environments where we have low market share, so that’s where we see it as additive,” Barra told Automotive News. “I do think that we’re going to be in the core business for a very, very long time, but we’re going to continue to be led by the customer.”
Barra’s comments run counter to other predictions that ride-sharing and autonomy will cause driver-owned vehicles to dwindle in numbers. Former GM product development boss Bob Lutz believed that the retail model is under threat because ride-sharing will cause consumers to not be loyal to one brand. GM President Dan Ammann recently revealed that the automaker’s investment in Lyft has had a 50-percent return over the original $500 million it put down.
In addition to talking about the effects of autonomy and ride-sharing, Barra also revealed that GM praised the Trump administration’s desire to increase manufacturing employment in the U.S. President Donald Trump wants to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by requiring a larger percentage of U.S.-made content on vehicles being produced in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, a move considered too disruptive to existing supply chains by auto industry suppliers.
Barra says that talks about how reworking NAFTA will impact jobs and businesses have happened. She also noted that at a meeting that involved the Detroit 3 automakers and vice president Mike Pence all were in agreement that NAFTA needs to be modernized and is hopeful that the information from manufacturers is considered. Additionally, Barra also supports tax reform and a U.S. Senate bill that aims to keep the $7,500 EV tax credit alive, which she believes would benefit the country.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)