Vehicle Technology

Mary Barra Paves the Road for Autonomous Mobility

This article is largely an abstract from a story that originally appeared in It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®.

Overview Mary Barra began her career with General Motors as a co-op student checking fender panels and inspecting hoods. Now Chairman and CEO, Barra is leading GM’s mission of a future with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.

As General Motors (GM) Chairman and CEO, Mary Barra is leading the company to achieve a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. She is focused on improving the customer experience and strengthening GM’s core vehicle and service business while transforming mobility through connectivity, electrification and autonomy.

Five years after debuting the Chevy Bolt EV with the GM team at CES® 2016, Barra returned to the all-digital CES 2021 to present the official opening keynote address and introduce audiences to the next generation of GM electric vehicles (EV).

Barra also recently spoke with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® It Is Innovation (i3) magazine about GM’s plans for an all-electric future.


As GM's first female CEO, and the first woman to lead a major automaker, what lessons have you learned?

I’ve learned that the most important thing we can do to build a strong team is provide all employees with opportunities to advance and contribute to their full potential. At GM, we have a set of core behaviors that are the foundation to how we drive our business decisions and activities worldwide. One of these behaviors is to “be inclusive,” meaning to live moments every day that value backgrounds, opinions and ideas that may be different from your own. We have endless opportunities to learn from each other and everyone deserves to feel welcomed and valued for who they are. Over the years I’ve learned that a culture where employees can bring their whole selves to work is more likely to foster innovation and dedication.

Electrification will be a catalyst for a range of new experiences, and that includes how autonomous vehicles will transform our daily experience.

Mary Barra
Chairman and CEO, General Motors

What are the benefits of autonomous driving? Is this also a strong focus for GM?

We believe the societal benefits and business opportunities of autonomous vehicles will be significant, and we intend for GM to be a leader in their development and deployment. Reshaping cities and the lives of those who live in them has tremendous societal implications. Since we believe that all AVs will be EVs, these efforts will advance our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, and help us build a more sustainable and accessible world. Self-driving cars are real, and they are going to help rewrite the rules of mobility.


What is the role of data in connected cars? Are there new benefits including safety for consumers?

With tens of millions of lines of code in any given vehicle’s systems today, they are effectively computers on wheels. We are bringing to market technologies and features that are radically changing what vehicles can do for people to improve their lives. Connecting vehicles to each other, and in the years ahead, to traffic lights and roads around them so vehicles know how to avoid backups and collisions, and choose the most efficient routes, will reduce congestion and increase safety.

At the same time, customers are bringing more devices into the vehicle, expecting seamless integration. Part of our job is to ensure that both our customers and their data are always safe, secure and private. Privacy is an extension of security, and we fiercely protect it.


With so much disruption, where do you see GM in the next five years?

Moving quickly on our vision for a world with zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion.

Ultium, our highly flexible global EV platform, is a game-changer and the heart of our EV strategy on our path to an all-electric future. Ultium enables us to offer all different kinds of electric cars, trucks and crossovers at a variety of price points. It’s a differentiating technology platform bringing other companies to our doorstep and it’s what will power our next generation of EVs, which you’ll see over the next five years.


On-demand programming from the all-digital CES 2021, including Mary Barra's keynote address, is now available for all to view. The industry-changing insights and announcements shared by tech visionaries at CES 2021 are key to the continued growth and advancement of your business and our tech ecosystem. With that in mind, we’ve opened the CES sessions to everyone.

Read the full interview with Mary Barra on i3 magazine.

You May Also Be Interested In ...

General Motors Forges Path to Electric Vehicle Adoption

Read more arrow-black

Educating Consumers on ADAS

Read more arrow-black