General Motors CEO Mary Barra has said she expects the U.S. economy to be back at pre-pandemic levels by as soon as early next year.
Mary Barra recently sat down with The Detroit Free Press to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on the automotive industry and how she expects the GM to fare in the coming months and years. She told the newspaper that GM believes this will be a “relatively short-lived recession,” though she acknowledged that it still has a “long way to go,” because of just how bad the economic impact was early on in the pandemic.
“The new outbreaks do pose potential setbacks, but we’re hopeful that the U.S. economy will be back to 90% of pre-pandemic levels early next year,” she added. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.”
GM is currently closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation state-by-state, with Barra saying the automaker is “watching everything very carefully.” If a state that houses a major GM plant goes back under stay-at-home orders, such as Michigan or Texas, the automaker could hit more production setbacks and risk running low on inventory. GM has implemented strict safety protocols at its various global facilities, though, and believes they will be enough to prevent an outbreak within them.
“The conversation I’ve had with many different officials is they understand with the protocols that people are safe at work,” she said. “I think we’re seeing steps being taken across many of these areas with lessons learned about maybe what worked well in reopenings and what didn’t.”
While GM is hopeful the economy will recover from the COVID-19 pandemic quickly, there’s no denying it had a heavy impact on the company early on. GM sales were down 34% year-over-year in Q2 2020 as the virus forced U.S. auto dealerships to close their doors. The automaker also began to run low on inventory of some of its more popular models, such as the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, as the country-wide shutdown dragged on – further hampering sales.