General Motors CEO Mary Barra addressed the automaker’s lack of standard active safety technology across its vehicle portfolio during its Q2 2019 earnings call this week, saying the automaker is committed to adding more standard safety equipment to its vehicles in the future.
Barra was questioned on the matter by analyst Chris McNally of Evercore during the call, with the CEO saying cost is the main reason why standard active safety tech has not featured across its portfolio more prominently.
“It‘s been a little slow on the rollout of this technology… it‘s not that it‘s not available, but essentially that the customer is still paying for it vs. it being standard. Could you just talk about the rollout of some of the low-end, not Super Cruise… is there a chance that it becomes standard offering on products in the way Toyota and some of the Japanese have rolled it out?” the analyst asked.
“We’re committed to having it across the entire portfolio and it’s a segment-by-segment question that we look at to see what makes sense, because we also want to… you know, you have so much technology on a vehicle that if a customer can’t afford it, and they don’t get the opportunity to achieve that, so we’re trying to be very customer-focused in that way, but we clearly have the technology,” Barra responded.
“We have also done work to ensure that if it’s not standard, it’s available in a first package as opposed to a last package, being receptive to really giving the customer choice,” Barra added. “So we’re going to continue to do that, develop the technology, have it available across the portfolio so that it will be standard and then we will really work on being you know, not necessarily Super Cruise, but you know the game changing feature of Super Cruise also is very important that we’re committed to and growing the feature and functionality of it.”
The American automaker particularly lags behind brands like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai/Kia when it comes to active safety, which offer comprehensive active safety packages as standard equipment on entry-level models. For example, the 2019 Honda Civic comes standard with Honda Sensing across all trim levels, which includes a collision mitigation braking ,adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation. GM has such safety tech on offer in its vehicles, however it is usually optional equipment.
GM may face increased pressure to offer more active safety equipment as standard going forward, with more consumers becoming familiar with the technology and making it a priority when shopping for a new vehicle. Safety groups like NHTSA and the IIHS also encourage automakers to use more active safety technology by offering higher vehicle safety ratings for cars that feature it.