Friday, March 09, 2018

Mary Barra Speaks Truth to Rich White Men in Houston

Mary Barra (Credit: GM) Click to Enlarge.
Carlos Tavares, CEO of PSA Group, took center stage to whine that taxpayers and private companies haven’t done enough to create charging infrastructure for electric cars and that’s why Peugeot and Citroen aren’t building any.  All around the world — with the exception of China — chief executives are doing the shuck and jive when it comes to actually gearing up to build electric cars, especially those that are affordable enough for mainstream drivers.

Which is why Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, deserves a hand.  This week at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Barra said several things that should have made the old white men in attendance sit up and take notice.  On Monday, Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco told CNBC it would take “generations” for a transformation toward electric vehicles in the transportation industry to take place.

Not so, countered Barra.  “I think it’s going to happen more quickly than decades,” she told CNBC.  “As more and more people recognize that we have the right range, understand that we have a charging infrastructure so they don’t think you’re going to be stranded, I think you’re going to see EV adoption continue.”

Barra told the conference that GM is planning to boost production of the Chevy Bolt later this year in order to meet demand not only in the US but in world markets as well.  She also invited those in attendance to work with General Motors to create a more robust charging infrastructure for North America.  She seems to understand better than other industry execs that chargers are the key to electric car sales.

“You’ve got to have good consumer confidence that they’re going to be able to drive their vehicles and it’s going to support their daily lives and their hectic life,” she said.  “We see a role in investing, in partnering, and making sure that that customer need is fulfilled.”

Next, Barra called for an extension of EV incentives at the federal level, along with a uniform set of fuel economy and emissions standards in all 50 states.  At present, car companies make one group of cars that conforms to laws in 40 states and another group that conforms to the stricter standards imposed by California and the 9 states that follow its policies.

Meeting two different standards costs manufacturers money, so it’s understandable why they would prefer one standard.  That should be easy.  Everyone adopt the California rules. Meeting adjourned.

Finally, Barra called on the energy executives in attendance to support increases in renewable energy generation, pointing out correctly that people who are interested in electric cars are also interested in powering them from green energy resources.

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