« Freakonomics Radio

442. Is it Too Late for General Motors to Go Electric?

2020-12-02 | 🔗

G.M. produces more than 20 times as many cars as Tesla, but Tesla is worth nearly 10 times as much. Mary Barra, the C.E.O. of G.M., is trying to fix that. We speak with her about the race toward an electrified (and autonomous) future, China and Trump, and what it’s like to be the “fifth-most powerful woman in the world.”

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Yes, she is the fifth most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes. Yes, she is the first big time female, ceo and an industry that historically as male as it gets, but perhaps most impressive. Is the success she's had dragging her very true. bound company into the modern era. Despite a variety of headwinds, hello, I'm Mary Barra and I'm chairman and CEO of General Motors merit understand you set aside six hours to speak with us today that re, not quite sex, passion I just want to know what it feels like to be the sea over carmaker. That makes seven point seven million cars a year and has a market cap of sixty one billion dollars, while a car makers Tessellae, which makes only three hundred and sixty five thousand cards here as a market of four hundred. Seventy
three billion dollars. Well, I think it's points to the opportunity. That's in front of us. And when you look at that values, it is saying: there's growth opportunities with electric vehicles, so I think it in one invalidates the strategy that we ve been on an accelerated. Yesterday we spoke with Barbara one after she announced the GM has plans to electrified their entire fleet of vehicles, climate change, It is real bar, I told investors and we want part of the solution by putting everyone in electric vehicle casino. In the couple weeks since we spoke with bar teslas, market cap has risen another sixty five or so billion dollars that too weak gain alone is about the same amount as GM total market capitalization, Chinese Electric car start up called NEO, even those sold fewer than forty thousand vehicles this year,
GM cells- nearly eight million in here me market cap. As of this recording, is roughly the same as GM today on four economics: radio, the latest instalment in our occasional series, the secret life of CEO. We speak with Mary Barra about China, covert trump. In whether gems push for electric vehicles is too late or maybe even just window dressing. The fact that we announced TAT will have thirty vehicles by twenty twenty five. It's not window dressing. Also, how long will it really take to produce a new generation of electric and autonomous vehicles? Any time in this industry we tend to make us. projections were usually really wrong and why is buying a new car, still such an ordeal. All that is coming up red after this I'm happy
from stature endemic productions. This is Reaganomics, radio, the and explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your Stephen Governor, you have to warn you the last time we interviewed an auto company- ceo is Jim hacker from foreign. He didn't last that much now it seems like a serious warning, Harry BAR as General Motors is the biggest of Detroit Big three automakers along with Ford and feel Chrysler. Jim was founded in nineteen o eight, its major you, Wes Brands includes several way: Buick Gm C and Cadillac. It also has to prominent Use brands and it makes cars in ten countries from mate thirty one until two thousand seven GM was
the biggest automaker in the world. At one point it built more than sixty percent of american Cars probably heard the old saying, as General motors goes so goes America if that is still true. It's probably not great news for a minute GM today has just seventeen percent of U S. Market share. It is now the fourth biggest automaker in the world. After the Volkswagen group, we and the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance. bored, meanwhile, is down to number six and fear Chrysler number eight in the old days and for a long time, american automakers supremacy was given Today, it's more of a memory with constant promises. The Detroit Renaissance is just around the corner. That was the theme of our interview with Ford CEO, Jim Hack, a couple years ago, although there were a lot of doubts over whether he was the right
a person to lead such a renaissance. For starters hack. It was not the car guy, as they say in Detroit, he was best known for running the furniture company Steelcase ends. Serving as interim athletic director at the University of Michigan, but listen back to a bit of that Hackett Interview. Ok, so I'm looking at you resume, but I'm not seeing ceo of an auto firm, you and me both Ford, like General Motors, is heavily dependent on selling gas hungry pick up trucks. Suvs, given new emission standards and the current climate around the climate change? This was looking less like a renaissance in more like clinging to the past so hack. It wanted Ford to evolve into what he called a mobility Many it's beyond vehicles to transportation and actually transportation operating system. His plan involved Ma
the ties in customer data, just like Google and Facebook do, but in different areas. They don't own healthcare data market there controlling aviation data today and where would forget that customer data to monitor as we already know, and have data on our customers, we know what people now. How do we know? That is because they borrow coming from a city. We know They work. You know, we know they're married we know how long they lived in their house and that's the leverage We ve got here with the data I am no auto industry expert, but that interview with Jim Hackett left me with a strong impression. It was this lovely man, wonderful leader, in the right circumstances, but quite likely not the best candidate to convert a twentieth century industrial giant into twenty first century tech, darling. In fact, the minute left the studio that day, I asked our producers to accelerate our editing schedule. Otherwise
worried hack. It might be fired before we can get the episode out. It didn't happen quite that fast, but Ford Stock price kept dropping and this August hack it was removed. As ceo, the parallels between Jim Hackett at Ford and Mary BAR at GM. Are there not very parallel Mary, Barbara no she's, not a guy at all, is very much a car guy. I've been a general letters for forty years because they started as a college student that is student in the cooperative edges. You should program at what was then known as General Motors Institute. Today it is called Katherine University BAR got. An electrical engineering while working on a Pontiac assembly line as equality inspector, I was checking fits between hoods and fenders. She recalled. Still I had a little scale and clipboard at one point I was probably examining sixty jobs in our during an eight hour shift. This was the same Pontiac factory, where her father used to work as a die maker.
Harry Barra, begin rising through the ranks at GM earning an MBA at Stanford along the way in the late nineteenth nineties, when GM was blooming, Barbara was there when GM filed for bankruptcy in two thousand nine during the global financial crisis, she was still there and in two thousand fourteen have held top jobs in manufacturing, engineering, human resources and global product development, Mary I was announced as CEO. She was general regarded as a good choice, Barra Woody, some enemies primarily be executives and factory workers. She would downsize, but people appreciated, heard GM experience her can do attitude in her candor. At one point,
He said what GM needed to succeed was quote to stop making crappy cars. Gm stock price hasn't exactly sword since bar took over, but it's more than held its own, especially when compared to the other. Detroit automakers and investors were very pleased when she declared that GM round. there are then grasping at some sort of mobility play was going all in on electric vehicles unequivocally to Romania, team aligned and we're going to accelerate cds. If you look through the history of businesses and the if, in twenty first century, easy that very few firms asked a really long time. Gm is obviously lasted a very long time already, but you think of companies like Kodak and blockbuster that were pre eminent just a couple decades ago, in there now dust when technology changes most big successful firms failed to round the corner. What makes you think that GM are really any of the legacy? Automakers will be able to keep up, I'm not.
that all will necessarily successfully make the transformation buy back in twenty four tee in, as I took this role, we knew there were four major areas where technology was changing the way people move, whether it be the way the vehicles propelled autonomy sharing and connectivity, because I think to your point: One has a right to exist, especially as technology is changing, almost everything if you don't, and have the best customer offering your custom Revalue inexperience. She won't exists so you have been aggressive in remaking GM over the past several years as the seat YO. With this big push toward electric vehicles cleaning house at the exam, level shrinking the workforce and operations generally trying to get as the Wall Street Journal, put it better by being smaller, but also one thing that
clean treat me is that it's been noted that you're trying to do away with would have been called bad entrenched habits. Can you talk about some of those habits and how you're trying to change them? I think it's empowering people I mean getting subject matter. Experts know the right thing to do. One of the things that we did when I was in HR as we changed our dress code from eighteen, twenty pages to it'll two words dress appropriately, and I think empowering people in knowing you trust them, but you also I hold them accountable to do the right thing. I think just created a different mindset I understand there were some managers who either pushed back or were just confused without that eighteen or twenty page dress good. What does that tell you that there were some reluctance to stepped to word code. Instead of a multi page code white shape
bunch leaders to be the leaders we needed them to be, because it's really easy to point to an eighteen page document says: I'm sorry, I don't care if you can wear genes, but that the roll says you can as a whole neither thing to have the judgment. a we'll get that's fine, you can wear genes or whatever and said to me. I opened in that we had to empower encouraging and actually train some of our are were slain, I'm supervisors and managers of what it means to be a leader. I guess, if I interpret it in a slightly less generous way than you did. I might say, if you can't handle this without the strict rules, without the rules to back you up then maybe you're, just not. I don't know creative enough for smart enough devoted enough to handle the important things of being an executive visit to ungenerous.
I think it's a little ungenerous media, but here's why? Because the people were capable, but if you as a company cover culture that has all these rules people are going to follow them in so part of it was almost giving permission and so don't blame it on the individual. I think it wise freeing them. gems. Recent news about electrifying their entire fleet overtime wasn't much of a surprise. In January of this year, Barra announced a lineup of forthcoming ease that would join the Chevy bolt, which went into production in two thousand. Sixteen, the first new even set to arrive in two thousand twenty two are an electric hummer and an electric Cadillac Suv called the lyric. But shortly after this announcement of forthcoming ease came the covert nineteen crisis, it disrupted gems, manufacturing sales and theoretic-
we at least their electric future as we got into the crisis. Yet it's for a study in January, when we saw the implication in China to Korean across the globe, and so once we did. Some of the things we had to do to me Sure the company was going to be strong through this than we started, saying. Ok, how do we accelerate the critical parts of the business during this crisis due the crisis, accelerate Jim's every plan, specifically it absolutely dead because we saw the team coming together in doing great work, even in in a remote instance, and we saw that Hake we just empower. Eighteen, given really clear directions and get out of their way. They can take time out of the process as much as it may seem that General motors is playing catch up with Tesla. The fact is that m began? Prototyping electric vehicles in the nineteen eighties? Well before Tesla existed,
spurred on by new emission laws in California, GM came out with the first Mass produced electric vehicle called the easy one. It had a battery range about sixty miles by Ninety nine these gm was running adds like this. How does it go? How does it go without Spock's explosions, GM built? More than a thousand av ones, you ask: how did we come so it seemed sure bet that the future and Iraq car tunnel. It here, but in two thousand three GM but down production of the evil, one their explanation. Production costs were too high and demand was too low.
Gm began, backing away from electric vehicles, just as Tesla was getting started. Their technology and styling have since attracted many fans. Despite the relatively high prices over the passed several years, Barra dearly wanted to get general motors back in the e arena and that's what and too many of the announcement yesterday as weren't knee jerk announcements and this decision to tolerate was it mostly supply driven demand, driven macro, Well, I had been pushing for a while of can't. We go faster, can't we go faster than we started to see some really interesting. Customer trends, I mean, if you look at the Catalan lyric, when we did the confirmation clinics with customers. We even included non e in tenders and when they saw the vehicle they were like, I would buy that vehicle. I want that vehicle, so one part of it that really reinforced our need to accelerate was
consumer perceptions, changing about these and their willingness to own when you say consumer perceptions, there's a part of that. The simple fact that Tesla has been so, A minute unsuccessful, albeit on a much smaller scale than GM, but still it seems to have captured the public's imagination. Yes way, think that's a piece of it, but we ve been talking to customers for several years now about electric vehicles and what they always told us is it's gonna have the right. Rain They start to lose ranging zuyder at about three hundred miles of range. They needed a robust charging infrastructure, and so we ve been working on that. Hence the partnership with easy go and other partnerships customers all long events and began to make my ease of ownership batter an owl consent for a navy, and that's why you have to look at is an ecosystem not just by the vehicle, but then they also said the vehicles gotta meet my needs. It's gotta be the vehicle. I would normally by to drive mass adoption, because, if you look at
right now, a lot of the evils in we have the bulky be which is the most affordable av with over two hundred fifty miles range. But people were saying I'm not going to come from. as the functionality of the vehicle, I'm not gonna, just any electric vehicle. If I drive a truck, I want a truck. If I driver Suv, I wanted Suv bizarre. understand it. Electric vehicles currently account for only about two and a half per cent of all car sales. What do you think that number looks like five years at least for GM. Well, we said by twenty twenty five I'll have over a million Davies on the road in North America and China. When you look at lot of external projections any go out to twenty thirty there's, quite a huge range by one of the forecasters, just went from Saint thirty percent by thirty to thirty five percent. So I don't think it's gonna necessarily be linear. What's gonna be key to unlocking it is having affordable vehicles across multiple
segments not just in in high and was much as you're pushing easier, also scaling up production of pickup trucks and other big vehicles mean because that's where the demand is the best selling GM vehicles, a shabby silverado, if one is an environmentalist E. These may just look like window dressing. Persuade me they're, not well the fact that we announced yesterday that will have thirty vehicles by twenty twenty five. Two thirds of them. Indeed it states in a goal to have over a million it's it's not window dressing. The way I look and it is our strong truck business is funding our ability to go fast and ease. I would also say every single truck. Every time we put a new generation of its more fuel efficient, so again, we have to recognise the consumer in this equation, but them faster general motors solve some of the consumer
Where's concerns are challenges, as it relates to ease the faster that transition will happen. Jams push to develop this new line of electric vehicles will be expensive. They ve just increase their budget, manage the accelerated timeline from twenty billion dollars to twenty seven billion dollars by two thousand twenty five. They had planned to invest another two billion dollars in the electric truck company Niccolo, but they just backed out of that deal after the company came the target of a fraud investigation and its founder, resigned Nikola by the way is the first name of this be in electricity, wizard Nikola Tesla. So if you are planning to start a new electric vehicle company, you might have to name it after one of Teslas parents, or maybe one of his three sisters. Millcote ends
Lena or Merida, although there is already a beauty supply company in South Africa called Merida and Swiss Chocolate Company name milk. In any case, General motors, in order to afford its electric reinvention, has had to become much leaner. Mary Barra has cut gems global workforce from two hundred nineteen thousand two hundred and sixty four thousand. This led to a showdown. Last with the United Autoworkers and the biggest auto industry strike in a decade and while GM still manufacturers vehicles in ten countries, that number was twenty six not so long ago. But these from a financial perspective bars Smaller better plan seems to be working. Gm just reported good third quarter numbers and it seems to have weathered the pandemic only so far in terms of both production and sales
work very hard to put protocols in place to enable people to return to the workplace safely and I've been in over a dozen plants since he resumed working in North America and they are to a person say they feel safer work than they do at the grocery store. What can you tell us about, and I realize it's- a moving target and covert has been wildly disruptive and unpredictable. But what can you tell us about overall demand for autos at the moment because of covert and some people? driving a lot less and others are driving a lot more. So what are you saying, we're seeing? Actually very trying to man, we ve seen China recovering, were seen very strong, Jimmy and in the United States, and we're not all the way back to where we were, but were definitely seen a recovery, and I think some of it is people, regardless of how often They need transportation. They want their own vehicle is, understand, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but auto dealers in your case, GM
franchisees make a tiny profit from new car sales, with the bulk of their profits coming from financing and pairs. Why is that model a design, herbal one or is it just an accident of history evolved every time that we believe are. Dealers are a true asset, the knowledge the relationships they haven't communities. Again, you gotta put the customer at the centre of this, so we're working hard to create a customer experience that centred around making it easy and exceptional for the costs. I think most people would say it, certainly not easy or exceptional. At the moment, buying a new car remains, I think, a frustrating experience for a lot of people and I've heard even use if at some haggling on price is to be expected. Why does the auto industry do that what's wrong with just setting a price for their goods like? about every other industry does, rather than forcing the customer
to negotiate with the salesperson. Well, if you go back in history, I don't think I've ever since some haggling is, is gonna, be a part of it, but I think I might have knowledge. Data is not that it necessarily need city and it we gotta, followed dealer franchise laws franchise, laws require auto dealers in many states to operate as a third party separate from the manufacturers Tesla by the way has found ways around many of these state laws prompting a host of lawsuits manufacture Yours, like GM, earn their money when they sell their cars to the dealers and the dealers prices aren't always fixed here's. How bar responded when the private equity investor David Rubinstein asked her in a recent interview about car pricing. So if I'm gonna go buy a car today, nine negotiate a little better. I just racing save whatever they stay price. They say it is. I should just take that price are little negotiation. Is that ok, I think of it
negotiation is, is, is probably recommended, as Bora told us. That's because of these dealer. Franchise laws thats a piece of it, but I think we can make it much simpler for the consumer. I would say through covered, that's another thing that got accelerated with our dealers to do almost the entire transaction online. Most customers seem to like it too. She says and again, our job is to meet them where they one and if they want to complete online experiencing contact list delivery. We're doing that today. Coming up after the break. Even are one thing: what about abies autonomous vehicles and why are they taking so long to get here? Also, GM does a great deal of business. In
China would marry Barbara have preferred a second Trump term. It's coming up red after this Mary Barra has spent Forty of her fifty eight years at General Motors she was born in Michigan to parents of finnish descent. Both of them grew up during the great depression and neither went to college, but their kids did alright. Their son is a guy. College just and their daughter runs America's biggest automaker. So in two thousand nine during the financial crisis, GM declared bankruptcy with a hundred seventy two billion dollars in liabilities, but it wasn't just the crisis: you'd been losing
billions for the preceding years, so the federal go men came in and became a sixty percent owner in what was called the new GM. What was your role at the time and Did you consider leaving the company at the time? I was running he factoring engineering, as we were entering that phase and then coming out of it is when I took on the h, our responsibility and when the company you worked for for a couple decades is going through those difficult experiences. You, of course you do something thirteen, but the core. I knew we had great people and I wanted to be part of the team having no idea Bc Yo, but I wanted to be part of the team that causes general motors to reinvent itself and be significant and lead again. so the decision to bail out GM from the federal perspective was not unique as there is at least one prominent White House economist who thought it was a bad move that would set a bad precedent. I don't expect you to take his side, but if a company is that
in debt, why shouldn't have been allowed to just die off the way we look at it as we are grateful for the fact that We receive the aid that we needed and we recognise that wasn't something we necessarily were title to nor ever will be again, but since two thousand nine general Motors has invested twenty nine billion dollars back in the United States. Think about the job creation and we paid back our loans, think when you look at it on balance the benefit the economy and jobs on ITALY, I think it turned out to be a good decision. When Barra became ceo into doesn't fourteen, she was eager to reinvent GM technology and refresh its car and truck line up, but first, Now a CBS news investigation, there was a crisis last week,
general Motors said it was recalling more than seven hundred thousand vehicles because of a problem with the ignition switch faulty switch. Could power down a cars electrical system, including the Airbus a number of GM models included? This switch most prominently, the shabby cobalt. Ultimately, it was found that a hundred twenty four people had died as a result of GM. Faulty switches. The problem was first discovered in two thousand, for the recalls came in twenty fourteen in one of her first major acts as CEO bar was hauled in to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee. They, hard at her. It might have been the old GM that started sweeping this defect under the rug ten years ago, but even the New GM. They enter the company waited nine months to take action, the? U S, department of Justice, considered criminal charges against GM
but settled for a fine of nearly a billion dollars, as well as in nearly six hundred million dollars settlement fund for the victims of the crashes GM Internal report on the fiasco concluded that gems quote inability, to address the ignition switch problem for over eleven years is a history of failures. Although everyone had responsibility to fix the problem, no one took responsibility. Mary Barra attributed this failure to was called. The GM nod: that's what happened in meetings where some issue would be brought then everyone would nod in agreement that we ask something needed to be done and then nothing would get done. Barra fired, fifteen. Please, who were involved in the ignition switch failure and cover up, and she could it is a new position at GM. Vice president of global vehicle safety. I'd like you to talk about what that ignition switch experience was like
as a brand new ceo, and how that set you up to be a ceo and slightly less tempestuous times as we got into the crisis. We quickly realized if we had to demonstrate our values, and so we agreed that we were gonna, be guided by doing what's right for the customer being transparent, doing everything in our power to make sure nothing like this ever happens again and we met every day because in a crisis you dont know everything on day one you, don't even know sometimes how big the problem is. We wouldn't look at every vehicle. We had to make sure didn't have an issue with that caused just to recall a number of vehicles, even though there had never been an issue in the vehicle might have been in market eight hundred and ten years. I mean no offense by this, but those values that you just listed doing what's right for the customer being transparent, do what you can to never repeat that same problem. Those seem like they should be the values or mission of every company. Indeed, every human. How had GM gotten to the point? Where that wasn't the case
I think there was a time earlier, where maybe some of her success. We didn't listen to the customer as well as we should, but then I also think the transparency peace. Sometimes people don't realize the way the works. Today you have to share what you know, and sometimes people get frustrated because lobby late, but I want to know this minimum. I dont know that yet and then doing the right thing. I have to say think gentleman has always tried to do the right thing. So, as we all know, women are under represented in stem fields and there also under represented in sea sweets. You meanwhile, are I see, who earned more than twenty million dollars last year. Congratulations, I hope your saving, some of it and you ve got a math heavy engineering background. So what do you have to tell the rest of us? What's your secret, well. I was always interested in math and science when I was in high school and I had parents who told me I can
It wouldn't be anything as long as I worked hard, which then led me to pay. Doing an engineering degree, which I think has served me well in all of the positions I've had at General motors because really engineering is about logical problem. Solving. I think education is so fundamental to solving many of the issues that we have, as relates to an equity and courage, Jean Young girls and young voice, to pursue technology, because technology impacts every single interest. In the world. Today, whether you know what you're? Not? How do you feel about all the attention paid to you not just for being a successful ceo, but for being a successful female seat Yossi to bother. You know it's funny when I first got this job, people would say to me so the first woman, ceo of a large automotive company in the end it was said, it made me- I was lightened the yes, that's true. They think, like everyone, you want to be judged
your contributions and your results and in your behaviors and how you treat people independent of gender? But what I learned in this role when people talk to you and say you know my daughter's now going to pursue an engineering degree, because she sees your success. I think that's so powerful, but I think the day that will be in a much better places where gender is not highlighted. Like you to make your best argument for why an increase in female leadership is not just the right thing morally, but also from a business perspective. So what does a female see or any leader do potentially at least differently and what kind of results stem from those differences? Why think it hard to just say no women may be our more collaborative because I think it's very independent on and the individual leader. But to me it's the broader diverse
you will make better decisions when you have diverse thoughts and inputs and and debates and I've seen that already with having differ. Gender race back room, nationality experiences? I think it helps you create better, sir, energies that are frankly, better balance for what could go wrong or what opportunities you could seize let's talk about China for a moment. First, what would you just characterize? The relation shipping, history of GM and China in terms of manufacturing and selling autos general motors waste. The second global we have to enter China in the MID nineties, Anne oh yeah, is an original equipment manufacture. The cell were very proud of our long track record. There. where, where number two in market, you know you're going through a bit of a recession even pre covered, but we still think over the medium term. If the market
is round twenty four twenty five million units and you think about that compared to a very strong market in the? U S would be seventeen eighteen. We still think China has the ability to grow to over thirty, so very significant market in size. I see that GM sold more cars last year in China, three million, then in the? U S, two point: eight million, but then I the revenues I see the Gm North America brought in a hundred six billion dollars and GM international, including China, brought in just sixteen billion dollars, so explain what accounts for that huge discretion. How are you sung so many cars in China in general? in relatively such small revenue? Well, there's a couple things. First, as you can with Gm International. There still some markets that were working to improve meaning summer in the Red, like South America, South America, for instance, do the macro issues on exchange rate etc. So that's one driver on it. A second driver is a portion of our best,
this is with our other joint venture there that has a lower price vehicle that they sell so that just a different pray and then what drives the? U S, one of our true franchises of these companies are full size truck franchise, so different product line is probably a big piece of it as well. I gather that the media in General Motors car that's bought in China is much much much much much cheaper than the media in General Motors car the spot. In the? U S correct, I would say that the range fairies, because we also saw oh cadillacs and buicks and a shovel he's along with bows June and willing products, and so the range of prices is far greater. in China than it is in the United States. So what is the least expensive you'd General Motors car? I can buy in the? U S and what's the least expensive New GM car I can buy in China? Will it be probably one of the new belgian prime? in China and very Fordable is the hungry so Evie that we just launched in China and
in the? U S, one of the most affordable vehicles is the new will. There's the shopper lay on transport. Also, trailblazer is the entry level the cheapest car in China, maybe in the forty five thousand all arranged in the? U S more, like ten to twelve over twelve to fifteen. I think it a little higher in the. U s you have so much depends on how the vehicles contented I dont have off the top of my head, the lowest, the lowest price. So what counts, for I mean that you can think of a lotta reasons, why there's labour costs or supply chain, castors, currency and etc? What, but, can you just describe? Why can I buy some kind of entry level, GM car in the? U S: four: five: eight twelve thousand dollars well there's also regulatory differences between the two countries of what's required in the vehicles. There are different standards and we obviously comply with every safety standard. Any country we sell vehicles. In many cases we far exceed those, for instance, there's things that we put in the: U S vehicle they
Raven required in Europe. What's a for instance, of U S, regulation that doesn't exist even in Europe? Well, there's standards that we have to make for an undoubted passenger. So there's requirements in the? U s that I believe in I am not an expert on this, but I know there's some countries in Europe where there's these him Major gonna, where you're safe it out so overall cars have become so so so much safer over the history of auto travel, but there are still more than thirty five thousand traffic deaths per year in the? U S and globally the numbers to me almost unbelievable one point: three million traffic: that's your globally! What is the next big advance? There, maybe it's autonomous. Maybe there are ten answers, but I'm curious to hear you ve got to say on that. Why do you think there's ten answers, because every year we are improving the safety of our vehicles with technology on a whole host of issues, but I do think autonomous is an ultimate part of the solution, because when you look at the number of deaths that we ve studied in the United
it's ninety percent of them are caused by human error, and an autonomous vehicles is going to follow all the traffic light. As in regulations, it's not gonna, drive, drowsy or drunk or impaired, and it has a item. Allergy that allows you to understand when the lights nature and green or read so I happened to be a fan of Thomas vehicles and I'm kind of frustrated that there further along than they are, what do you think I've been the biggest dry, rivers in well? Why do you think they're not further long than they are now? What's it going to take for them to be fully deployed, but I think technology will continue to advance, It's one thing to go on around and have an autonomous vehicle in a demo in its another thing to, for instance, be on the streets of San Francisco and go too. There is a famous intersection. That's got like five different streets coming together and so the ito than the coding welded, the quarter cases and you ve got us all for all of those. We will.
so that we will have vehicles that could be autonomous and handle any situation as we continue to move forward. What about public acceptance, even the let's say, Ten years from now, autonomous vehicles are shown to save thirty thousand. I was in the aggregate from fewer traffic fatalities, there is one very visible tragedy: an autonomous vehicles mean plows into a playground: I'm curious how you seed juggle balancing the public response. Well, of course, any loss of life. Whether technology or human driven, is going to be tragic and is tragic. That's why we're so focused on the safety standards that were wholly ourselves accountable to to demonstrate before we would take the driver out of the vehicle And then I think, with adoption in one example, is an vehicles we have on the run. Today we have a technology called super crews and super crews. You can take your hands the wheel, feed off the paddles, even now change lanes. The vehicle will do that for you and I have commit myself
I've been in the vehicle for some years ago. This is a little strange, but five minutes in your like this is good and eighty five percent of our customers, who experience that technology say for their next vehicle they'd either require or they strongly desire it to be in the vehicle. So I think is one of these things you have to experience and then you have to trust the company putting it forward. What share of vehicles on the road. In the U S in, let's say twenty twenty five will be primarily autonomous vehicles. Can you take a guess? L, I think there may still be fairly soon you don't any time in this industry, we tend to make those projections whether it's easier av were usually really wrong. But I'll just say when you look at the way we believe abies will first were allowed. It will be in dense urban environments, thousands of vehicles in each of those cities, but really changing the way mobility is because It changes. A lot of things speak about how much space in New York City is designated for. Perky tell
I don't know the number is gonna, be as significant as the impact it's gonna have on communities with the efficiency and the changes drives into. Doesn't sixteen GM for San Francisco start? called crews. Automation, crews is still based. But they now have access to all of GM capital and scale they recently. made with Walmart test autonomous delivery vehicles in Arizona, and this the of San Francisco has approved testing on city streets. Before the end of the year, from General motors perspective. How would you assess President trumps approach to China when it comes to trade and manufacturing? There are issues that need to be addressed. Is the company has grown, I sit on the? U S: try a business council along with them Eyes rewards in China and my whole point is: give us a level playing field and let us compete. There are some issues that are being addressed will need to be addressed as we go forward. If I recall crook
you were originally a member of President trumps Business Forum, but you quit following his response to the sure. That's Phil Protests. What was your relationship with him like after that? While I think what we looked at is you know when I was asked to sir? I think, as I was important to have a voice and You now have a voice in decisions that are being made. I think when we know that group decided it wasn't productive because we had just taken on a tone on that, frankly, wasn't allowing it to be an effective place to provide input purely from a business perspective, especially considering how much bigger is gentleman whose does in China would you have preferred to see Trump serve a second term oh you know what were open to work with anybody. Were you know, so I am what I think about is immaterial. Its american people have spoken and Mary Barra spoke a quick postscript a few days after this interview
Laura announced. The general motors would no longer work with the Trump Administrations legal team to fight the mist these regulations in California, as they have been doing, California, Israel, Vehicles must get more than fifty four miles per gallon of gas by two thousand twenty five. The trumpet minutes Asian, wanted this lowered to thirty seven miles per gown. The fact is the caliph when you standards may become moot. If the buyer demonstration increases federal emission standards, which it is expected to at least attempt one more thing to add, I'm sure you know the concept of the glass ceiling, which describes how women can have a hard time rising to the top of organisations. There is related, even more insidious concept called the glass cliff. That's the idea that women who do make it to the top of an organ asian are often elevated in part, because that organization is already in trouble which makes the
do female reader more likely to fail and to fall off for be shoved off the glass cliff. We made an episode about this. A few years ago, number three hundred and nineteen called after the glass ceiling, the glass cliff anyway, when you talk to academic researchers about the glass cliff phenomenon, as we did for that episode, is fairly persuasive and when you look at the circumstances under which Mary Barra became ceo of General Motors recent bankruptcy, a huge safety scandal in related cover up to be easy to put Barbara in the Glass cliff category, two aura herself is always shrugged off this theory. Whatever the case when the next
researchers come looking to survey the wreckage of the latest glass cliff candidates. They will have a useful counter example to consider in Mary BAR. We will be back next week with another episode of economics. Radio until then take care of yourself, and if you can someone else too, Fr Economics, radios produced by stature and w productions. This episode was produced by Zack Levinsky. Our staff also includes Allison, Craig Low marked Mccluskey Gregg, ribbon Beach and Mary Duke and met Hickey are in turn is immaterial special things this week to Jason Stein from automotive. New for sharing his considerable expertise with us. Our theme song is MR fortune by hitchhikers all the other music. Was posed by Luis Gara. You can get free economics, radio on any podcast app. If you want the entire back catalogue, use the sticker at or go to free economic
Dot. Com, free, clumps radio can also be heard on many and pr stations across the country. As always, thanks for listening. This- is why you're such a good seat yon? Why I'd be terrible? I dont know about I do I do no question teacher.
Transcript generated on 2020-12-03.