Barra: General Motors Will Stay the Course for the Time Being

Mary Barra

Now that Mary Barra is buckled into the driver’s seat at General Motors, she has no plans to deviate from the route set forth by her predecessor, Dan Akerson. Instead, she is more keen on “accelerating” his strategy rather than changing it, noting that “there are no right or left turns,” Reuters quoted her as saying. ”We have momentum. We have a strategy.”

“If I had to say it in one word, it’s ‘accelerate,’” Barra said when asked at her first meeting with reporters as GM’s chief executive what changes she might make. “It’s more about accelerating business results by quickly sharing the best ideas.” Under Akerson’s command, General Motors moved ahead with its initial public offering, posted record profits, established a leading role in China’s auto market, and organized the first dividend in six years, to say little of navigating the company out of a near-stagnant economy.

For Barra, its a formula that, as long as it’s working, doesn’t necessitate any immediate changes. She swore to uphold the company’s ”fortress balance sheet” and hinted that allowances would be made for reinvestments of capital and shareholder returns.

Barra also added that the appointment of Dan Ammann — formerly GM’s chief financial officer — as president will allow a greater focus in each of the world’s regions and on the company’s brands, as well as speed up GM’s plan to boost profit globally. She noted that Amman’s focus would lead to better and faster sharing of money-saving or profit-generating ideas across the company, Reuters reports.

All of GM’s previously issued targets remain intact, such as reaching 10 percent profit margins in North America, and a break-even on its operation in Europe. Barra also pointed to the opportunity that the Cadillac brand has, especially in the Chinese market, the world’s largest market for luxury automobiles.

Consistent with Akerson’s actions in Europe, Barra reaffirmed the company’s support for its Opel brand in Europe, which has seen plenty of hardships amid the region’s struggling economies. ”We’re not talking anymore about Opel and its existence,” she said to Reuters. ”We’re talking about the product.”

Barra has come in just as Toyota reclaimed the No. 1 global slot for 2013, with General Motors about 270,000 vehicle deliveries behind the Japanese manufacturer.