General Motors CEO Mary Barra has her work cut out for her in the near future. She’s delivered promises such as self-driving cars on public roads in 2019 and a goal to make electric cars profitable by 2021.
Mary Barra reiterated the automaker’s goals in a new interview with Fast Company and she provided more specifics surrounding the goals, which starts with the hiring process. Barra has been an instrumental force it trying to shift the narrative from a 110-year-old automaker, to a true innovator in the 21st century.
The GM CEO said there’s a major focus on hiring electrical and software engineers these days as both become major elements at nearly every automaker. Barra said more engineers in the respected fields are “key for us.”
“There’s so much software that is now on the vehicle, and, in many cases, software is replacing mechanical systems,” Barra added. “There’s going to be a point where we’re going to be upgrading and improving cars as opposed to fixing them.”
So far, Barra’s strategy has worked. She said GM hires someone for a full-time science, technology, engineering, or mathematics position every 26 minutes. The new hires will be instrumental in GM’s future goals: deploying self-driving cars and electric cars.
The CEO said GM is still on track to deploy self-driving cars in 2019 with a fleet of vehicles for a ride-sharing service. However, the first cars will be geo-fenced to a particular area, much like Waymo will roll out this year in Arizona. Barra said self-driving cars will continue to learn various essentials, such as operating in tunnels or in deep snow, and the automaker will continue to expand the geo-fenced area along the way. But, regulations will also play a part in the expansion of self-driving cars.
On electric cars, Barra said charing anxiety is the next major issue to overcome.
“Having the Chevrolet Bolt EV with a 238-mile range was a huge step forward in reducing people’s range anxiety. The next thing they have is charge anxiety. So when I do need to charge, is there going to be infrastructure?”
GM is working on ultra-fast charging technology to charge an electric car in just 10 minutes. solid-state transformers (SSTs) and a high-voltage direct current (HVDC) port will be used to deliver 400 kW of power.