General Motors North America President Alan Batey addressed the Midwest Automotive Media Association at the Chicago Auto Show this morning, divulging some of the automaker’s product and marketing plans for the future. Batey said GM isn’t “waiting for good things to happen,” but “hustling to make a difference in 2015 and beyond.”
Batey went over GM’s successful 2014 sales results before delving into details on its future, mentioning Buick and GMC’s double-digit sales gains, Cadillac’s global growth and Chevrolet’s 4 percent spike in U.S. sales. He also shared with the audience GM’s 16.5 million to 17 million unit sales forecast for 2015.
As for GM’s future, Batey confirmed GM would put the Bolt concept on the fast track for production and will introduce 25 new technologies in 2015, pertaining to safety, fuel efficiency, performance and more. He also announced they’ve teamed up with Disney to train their dealers and employees, embedding customer service oriented attitude within them.
Read Batey’s statements in their entirety below.
General Motors North America President Alan Batey addressed the Midwest Automotive Media Association breakfast on Thursday. His prepared remarks follow. As always, the speaker’s words are definitive.
Good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be with you to help kick off the Chicago Auto Show.
Coincidentally, today is also the 206th birthday of Illinois’ favorite son, Abraham Lincoln. I’ve always felt Lincoln was one of the greatest men who ever lived… right behind Winston Churchill. Sorry, but I’m biased.
But there is a powerful quotation from Lincoln that I believe should drive everyone in this industry to excel. He said: “Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
Let me assure you, General Motors takes that wise advice very seriously. We aren’t waiting for “good things” to happen. We are hustling to make a difference… in 2015 and beyond.
And we are building from a truly solid foundation, especially here in this market. Chicago is vital for us, when you consider:
- Chevrolet has been the number one-selling brand in Chicago for the last 4 years.
- Silverado was the best-selling truck in Chicago in 2014.
- And one in five vehicles sold here is a compact SUV, which makes Chicago the third-biggest market for compact SUVs in America. That makes this the perfect venue to introduce the restyled 2016 Chevrolet Equinox, which we will do later this morning at 10 a.m.
Another important reason to “hustle,” in my opinion, is that 2015 could be a great sales year here in North America.
Frankly, it is off to an impressive start.
Our official forecast for the year is a range from 16.5 million to 17 million. And with low interest rates, low fuel prices, and the widest range of vehicles the market has ever seen, it’s possible the year could exceed everyone’s expectations.
If that happens, we intend to be ready for it… with four strong brand portfolios full of amazing vehicles for our customers.
Before I discuss our brands at length, I’d like to take a moment to thank and congratulate our excellent dealer body – they do a great job in this market and I know this is a very important show for them.
In fact, our dealers – both here in Chicago and across the country – are really stepping up their game. Just look at the results from the most recent satisfaction surveys among customers.
As this chart shows, Buick, GMC & Chevrolet took three of the top four spots in J.D. Power’s 2014 Sales Satisfaction Index, trailing only Mini… which, as you know, is not a huge volume brand.
And Buick led the entire industry in the Customer Service Index, with GMC third and Chevrolet fifth.
These are results we don’t need to explain. And for Buick, this is just another chapter in their amazing growth story.
Buick posted double-digit sales gains in the United States last year, on its way to selling 1.2 million vehicles around the world. This is the second consecutive year that Buick has set a global sales record… momentum is definitely on Buick’s side.
The Buick product portfolio gets stronger every year… so does its brand awareness. And the momentum will continue to build here in North America later this year when we introduce the Cascada convertible, the first open-air Buick in 25 years.
But there’s more – the Avenir concept turned heads and won awards when we unveiled it last month in Detroit. Avenir is a bold and beautiful statement hinting at Buick design language to come. Our invitation to “Experience the New Buick” couldn’t come at a better time.
GMC has a lot of momentum right now, too, on the strength of the Sierra and Canyon pickups, as well as its strong SUV lineup.
And in January, GMC sales were up 29 percent in the U.S. over last year. Every truck and crossover posted gains, led by Yukon and Yukon XL, whose sales more than doubled.
In the luxury market, Cadillac is beginning a totally new era – with new vehicles in new segments, new investment, and a new headquarters in New York City.
Cadillac has momentum as well, with global sales growing 5 percent in 2014, including a record 73,500 vehicles sold in China. That’s an increase of nearly 50 percent.
This year we’re introducing the new CTS-V, with truly breath-taking performance… and the phenomenal new CT6 luxury sedan, which makes its world debut March 31st.
But of course, the “big dog” is Chevrolet… so let’s look at the momentum that continues to drive our volume leader.
In 2014, Chevy sales were up 4 percent in the U.S., reinforcing our position as the second–largest brand in the industry. It’s also been the fastest-growing brand for the past five years.
To help strengthen our efforts, we will focus on four crucial areas in 2015 and beyond: marketing, customer service, our retail facilities, and, above all, great vehicles.
And we capture all of this in three words for Chevrolet: “Find New Roads.”
This is much more than a simple tagline. This is our brand promise, a promise of fulfilling endless possibilities through our products and the Chevrolet experience… in order to inspire passion and loyalty in our customers.
“Find New Roads” embraces the spirit of innovation that has been part of Chevrolet’s DNA from the beginning… and it will continue to guide every aspect of our business, in every place we do business, all around the globe.
Whether you’re talking about:
- The convenience and capability of 4G LTE…
- Or the technological innovation of the Chevrolet Volt…
- Or the unbelievable performance of the Corvette Z06…
They are all proof of the power of ingenuity. They all help fulfill possibilities for our owners… they all express “Find New Roads.” This is our North Star for Chevrolet, both now and in the future.
And “Find New Roads” is strong and versatile enough to be used on every continent, and in every situation… even a playful one like this, which we ran right before the Super Bowl Kickoff.
[“Black Out” commercial airs]
As you can imagine, Twitter was loaded with comments after that ad, as people thought they were going to need to “Find New TVs.” But traffic to our website surged 1,104 percent during the first quarter of the game. People wanted to know more about Colorado and 4GLTE… that’s finding new roads!
In addition, we continue to activate Find New Roads around the world, from our sponsorship of the hugely popular Manchester United football club. This type of initiative enables us to build global brand recognition, especially in markets where Chevrolet is still pretty young.
Next, we are leveraging a “Find New Roads” attitude with our customer service.
At GM, our goal is to put the customer in the center of everything we do… in order to earn “customers for life.”
To help us, we’ve again teamed with Disney… and put our dealers and employees through extensive Disney training. Disney is known as the “happiest place on earth” for a reason. And their track record for customer loyalty is astounding – on any given day, 75 percent of people in Disney theme parks are returning visitors.
We want to service our customers with that same mindset that build toward enduring relationships. To achieve this, how they are treated is essential… but so is where.
So another major contributor to our success is the network of Chevrolet dealership facilities.
The majority of our dealers have been with Chevrolet for many decades… some as long as a century. So it’s essential they commit to providing a clean, contemporary environment to do business.
These are some startling “before and after” photos that clearly show how serious we are about changing the retail environment for the better.
Our Chevy dealers across the country have really stepped up and embraced this transformation. They, too, want to earn customers for life, as much as we do. And this is the road to making it happen.
That road now brings me to the stuff that fills those showrooms, our products.
It begins with the most desirable advanced technology that our customers can find in a vehicle anywhere, at a great value.
Chevrolet will introduce 25 new technologies to our vehicle lineup in 2015, and each is designed to improve safety, performance and fuel efficiency, and make our customers’ lives better.
Take built-in 4G LTE as an example. While other automakers are introducing one model here and one model there, Chevrolet has rolled it out into 16 models in a matter of months. It’s even standard equipment on a $12,000 Spark, because this technology is both useful and universal. People get it and want it, regardless of how much they’re spending on a vehicle.
Now, beyond features and technology, Chevrolet will have one of the freshest product portfolios in the business just one year from now.
“5 in ’15” is our mantra this year, as we’ll introduce five all-new cars in key segments.
We have already lifted the cover on the first of those five, the next-generation Volt, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
The current Chevrolet Volt, since it was introduced in late 2010, has done exactly what it was intended to do:
- It’s the best-selling plug-in passenger car in the U.S.
- It’s attracting new customers to Chevrolet – 69 percent of new Volt buyers come from non-GM vehicles.
· It’s changing habits, and energy usage: Volt owners who charge regularly typically drive more than 970 miles between fill-ups and visit the gas station less than once a month, on average.
And now, it’s going to get even better.
When the new Volt arrives later this year, it will have more range — up to 50 miles of clean electric driving — and more comfort and convenience features than ever.
The Volt is the purest expression of Find New Roads, with advanced technology at its heart and innovation at its soul. It’s the kind of cutting-edge technology that has long set Chevrolet apart, and continues to do so today.
But there are still more ways to “Find New Roads”…and there’s one in particular I’d like to share today.
Last month, we introduced an all-electric concept called the Chevrolet Bolt EV. It was designed to be a game changer, providing long-range pure electric power – about 200 miles of range – at a target price of around $30,000 after federal incentives.
Well, that’s exactly what it’s going to be when we build it. Today I am pleased to announce that the Bolt EV will go from concept to production vehicle, available in all 50 states.
I can’t go into details about timing or price, but I am announcing today that we will put this vehicle into production as quickly as we can, and we’ll build it at our Orion Assembly facility outside Detroit.
And I can say that GM’s Orion Assembly and Pontiac Metal Center facilities are receiving a combined $200 million investment to prepare for and support its launch.
We are putting the Bolt EV concept on the fast track to production, as it has the potential to quickly shake up the status quo for electric vehicles. It’s an EV aimed at everyday drivers, giving them long-range performance that’s been elusive until now.
Like the Volt, it’s a cure for range anxiety… it’s just another way to “Find New Roads” to get there.
Find New Roads. That’s the brand promise of Chevrolet… and vehicles like the new Volt and Bolt EV concept represent the innovation and ingenuity that have run in the DNA of this brand since the very beginning.
Yes, good things may come to those who wait… but we aren’t waiting. We are going to take Lincoln’s advice. We will be humble, stay hungry… and we’re going to “hustle.”
Thank you very much.