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CEO Mary Barra says making ventilators has changed GM’s culture

DETROIT – CEO of Synthetic engine on Thursday said the automaker learned valuable lessons last year when it ramped up production of emergency ventilators to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients.

The company was able to help a small West Coast ventilator manufacturer start large-scale production in about a month. That gave GM confident it can accelerate other tasks, such as bringing electric cars and other vehicles to market faster, the CEO Mary Barra speak.

“Doing the exhaust fan project was a game changer from a General Motors perspective, from a culture-changing perspective,” Barra said in an extensive conversation with members of the Umbrella Press Association. car Detroit.

Barra says that in the past, GM’s management team would decline when told they needed to help a company that makes 250 ventilators a month accelerate production to 30,000 units in 150 days.

“They would look at me like I was crazy,” she said.

Instead, employees approach the matter as if their loved ones might need a ventilator and accomplish the goal, Barra said. However, the company is still accused by former President Donald Trump of operating too slowly.

Last March, GM put hundreds of workers on the project to help Seattle-area Ventec Life Systems ramp up production at a time when there were concerns the country would run out of ventilators.

GM has funded and converted an electronics factory in Indiana to help manufacture ventilators at what one supply chain expert called “lightning-fast”.

Barra said the company is now using a similar approach for tram, software and partially autonomous driver assistance systems. The company is “a few days away from getting it,” she said Hummer to the first customer. “


Also at the event, Barra made a strong hint that Michigan could get an electric vehicle battery factory. When asked if the state had a chance to acquire a plant, she said discussions were ongoing.

“In the not-too-distant future, we will be able to answer that question,” Barra said, adding that an announcement is likely to come in weeks, not months.

GM announced plans to build four North American regions the battery factories. The locations of two have been announced, Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Barra also took a photo Tesla and its chief executive officer, Elon Musk. When asked about Musk’s criticisms of the Biden administration’s plan to provide larger tax credits to buyers of union-made electric cars, she said that building cars for the market The broader mass is much harder than selling. luxury car for part of the buyer.

In a dig into the extent of Musk’s hype, she said, “I’m not going to get into that kind of content because I really mean what I say and say what I mean. When I speak. something, I really want to say it and I’m an engineer, so I’ll do it.”

She speaks Shares of GM undervalued when compared to Tesla, Rivian, Lucid Motors, all relatively new companies with large market valuations focused solely on electric vehicles.

“Sometimes the traditional, iconic company, even though they are innovating rapidly, is seen through a different lens,” she says.

Barra also said she doesn’t think GM will return to owning such a large number of vehicles seller a lot, now it’s managed through a global computer lack of chips with lower inventory. While there are some customers who want to buy a car immediately, others want to order online and avoid the agency, and GM will serve both, she said.

Her comments came after the company Notice two more steps to make sure it has the raw materials for the transition from petroleum to battery power. The company announced an agreement with MP Materials to supply rare earth metals and finished magnets for electric vehicle motors from a newly built plant in Fort Worth, Texas, starting in 2023.

They are also negotiating the possibility of a joint venture with Germany’s Vacuumschmelze (VAC) to build a factory to manufacture electric vehicle motor magnets in the US. The companies said they would start production in 2024 and would create “hundreds of new jobs”.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the transactions. Shilpan Amin, GM’s head of supply chain and purchasing, said it has a component supply agreement with MP Materials that does not require GM capital investment. The capital structure of the joint venture with VAC is still being discussed, but the companies have said they will build a factory together.

There are currently no plants in the US equipped for large-scale production of electric vehicle motor magnets, Amin said. MP says 90% of the current supply comes from China.

The moves come as automakers are scrambling for supplies of parts for what is believed to be a dramatic shift from internal combustion engines to zero. emissions electric energy in the next decade. For example, GM aims to sell only electric passenger cars by 2035.

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