Finance

CEO Mary Barra says GM will achieve its electric vehicle ambitions by 2024


Decades of climbing the ladder while challenging conventional thinking has resulted in Mary Barra So Far — One year into legendary automaker General Motors’ ambitious electric vehicle goals (General Motors).

“I think 2024, this is the year of execution,” GM’s longtime chairman and CEO said on a new episode of Yahoo Finance. go this way“I think this is a big year.”

It sure felt like a rainy day in late January, just a few miles outside of Detroit.

Barra spent half a day with me on a tour of a new production plant in Warren, Miss., where $300,000 Cadillac Celestiq electric cars are hand-made, customizable right down to the stitching on the seats. These were one of the most expensive cars GM ever made and they didn’t even have gas tanks.

The operation is detailed throughout, as is the futuristic styling of Cadillac, GM’s famous luxury brand.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra toured Detroit's electric vehicle production facilities with Yahoo Finance executive editor Brian Sozzi.

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra toured the electric vehicle production facility in Warren, Miss., with Yahoo Finance executive editor Brian Sozzi. (Yahoo Finance)

As for the rest of the day, Bala took me for a spin on my new bike. Corvette E-ray hybrid —American Idol’s first hybrid car.

The supercar is equipped with an electric motor and a rear-mounted V8 engine that delivers more than 650 horsepower. Barra signed a deal several years ago to move the engine from the front to the rear in order to better compete on performance with cars like Ferrari (Race) and Lamborghini.

A classic playbook from Barra’s leadership playbook: Be bold, but respect GM’s history.

“I can’t take all the credit for myself. [for the engine move],” Barra said from behind the wheel of E-ray, praising the experienced gearheads on the Corvette development team.

Leadership Climb Inside

General Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Mary Barra talks with a team member at an electric vehicle production plant in Detroit. General Motors Chairman and Chief Executive Mary Barra talks with a team member at an electric vehicle production plant in Detroit.

General Motors Co. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra talks with a team member at its electric vehicle production plant in Warren, Miss. (Brian Sozzi)

Following in the footsteps of her father (who was a now-defunct moldmaker for General Motors) pontiac badge), Barra, 62, started inspecting fenders at the Pontiac factory at age 18.

She graduated from General Motors College in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.

Since then, her career path has been as winding as a country road – working in communications, marketing and manufacturing.

It’s these connections to the company’s history and operations that give Barra a high level of credibility with rank-and-file employees—something that was easy to see when we toured Warren’s facility.

Auto industry experts say Barra’s deep knowledge of GM’s business helps develop leaders who are balanced, well-spoken and widely respected.

“Her leadership style may be more stable and less controversial than some others,” Sean Tucker, senior news editor at Cox Automotive, told Yahoo Finance.

Mary Barra QuotesMary Barra Quotes

Mary Barra Quotes

All in all, Barra has used her vast experience to navigate a series of tricky situations since being named CEO on December 10, 2013, the first woman to serve as CEO of one of the Big Three automakers.

They range from apologizing to victims of faulty ignition switches early in her tenure to standing up to an irascible President Trump Tweet On the company’s situation during the COVID-19 pandemic, recently dealing with UAW negotiations and autonomy Cruise ship vehicle kills pedestrian.

Equally tricky will be transitioning GM to electric vehicles against a backdrop of range anxiety, fierce competition and technology that remains relatively expensive. GM plans to invest $35 billion in product development for electric and autonomous vehicles between 2020 and 2025, exceeding its expected spending on natural gas and diesel.

The company plans to push the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution with the launch of the Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV, Equinox EV, Escalade IQ and Celestiq in 2024 alone, joining the current EV lineup dominated by the Lyriq and Hummer.

Barra had sought to go all-electric by 2035, but the company’s stance has softened amid weak EV sales across the industry. The company will rely on the growing popularity of hybrids to close the gap.

GM is still targeting total sales of $280 billion in 2030, more than double 2021 sales, in part due to expectations for electric vehicles.

“We still believe in an all-electric future,” Barra said.

Until recently, strong belief and investment in electric vehicles had weighed on GM’s stock price.

“I believe Mary has done a commendable job of laying the yellow brick path to growth, but the execution has been inconsistent,” said Wedbush analyst Dan. “It’s like pushing a boulder up a hill, but in our view, The tide has started to turn for GM,” Ives told Yahoo Finance.

Drive down the valuation lane

Dive deeper into General Motors’ valuation metrics on Yahoo Financeyou can see that investors want to see all of Barra’s moves pay off.

GM’s forward price-to-earnings ratio is only 4.3 times, a sizable discount to the S&P 500’s 22 times. Tesla (Tesla) has a forward price-to-earnings ratio of as high as 63 times.

The stock also trades at a 26% discount to its book value, according to calculations by Yahoo Finance.

To be fair, the stock’s recent gains have been driven by a variety of catalysts.

First, GM launched a $10 billion stock repurchase program and increased its dividend by 33% in late 2023. Barra told me when he made the announcement She’s not happy with the stock price, so she and the management team are taking action to convey their confidence to investors.

Then in February, GM said this See Electric vehicle profitability will become “variable” in the second half of 2024.

Full accounting profit is expected to be achieved in 2025.

“I’m pretty confident they’re going to be successful in electric vehicles,” Cox Automotive’s Tucker said.

Whatever ends up happening, one thing is undeniable – Barra’s place in the history books of automotive leadership.

But ask Barra if he considers himself an iconic figure: “No, I feel lucky to be able to lead this team.”

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Brian Sozzi is the executive editor of Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter/X @bryansozzi etc. LinkedIn. Tips on deals, mergers, activist situations, or anything else? Please email brian.sozzi@yahoofinance.com.

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