DETROIT — General Motors Executive Vice President Mark Reuss was interviewed by Automotive News Publisher and Editor Jason Stein at the 2017 Automotive News World Congress. The two of them discussed various topics including President-elect Trump, twitter, bankruptcy and electrification of GM’s product offerings.
First, Stein and Reuss talked about Chevrolet’s 10-year journey from the Volt to the Bolt EV. What was it like as a lifetime GM guy?
“That journey was an interesting journey because the car itself started as a pretty interesting concept that garnered a lot of attention,” Reuss answered. “The reality of the car with the aerodynamic properties as an engineer was pretty breakthrough at the time. Using an internal combustion engine to charge batteries and create electric capability that was basically something you could drive across the country was really hard to people to understand. That experience leading up to the Bolt gave our team confidence.”
Stein said GM is fundamentally a different company. Then he asked Reuss “Why did it take bankruptcy to make that happen?”
“It was the most pivotable business transformation that the company went through. I would argue that equal and probably even more powerful within the company was the ignition switch crisis that followed that. We really used that to change the way the company behaved but also to change what was ok and what wasn’t ok and what we wanted to be. I think that was very, very important. It was an unbelievably painful process.”
The GM Executive Vice President is very active on Twitter and tweets a lot. Stein gave out Reuss’ Twitter handle @GMdudeinNA to the audience. “Thanks for putting that out there,” Reuss joked.
In December, President-elect Trump selected GM CEO Mary Barra to be a part of his economic policy advisory group. She will advise him on government policy and its impact on economic growth, job creation and productivity. Stein and Reuss talked about it on Wednesday evening.
“We are very fortunate and honored to have that. It is a great voice to have. I speak for the whole company and we’re looking forward to working with him. This is the President of the United States. I have as much as anybody in this country, I hope, respect for that office and the person in it and the elected process. He’s pro-business, he’s pro-U.S. jobs, he’s pro creating wealth and economy and livelihoods in the United States. We’ve got to keep that in mind and we are going to help him do that.”
It’s an annual tradition at the conference that BorgWarner CEO James R. Verrier presents the BorgWarner Championship Driver’s Trophy to the winner of the Indianapolis 500. For 2016, it was an American-born driver Alexander Rossi who took the checkered flag.
“It is amazing as this trophy to my right is, to finally take something home,” Rossi said. “To be a part of racing history, now no matter what else happens is pretty mind boggling. Now to be able to take something home is very special. Thank you to BorgWarner for the support that you guys have provided for the Indycar Series and the Indianapolis 500.”
Verrier also presented Championship Team Owner’s Trophies to Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta.
“This is our fourth win here as James said and this is the one time we look forward to come to Detroit in January,” Andretti said. “It’s a little bit of a fairy tale, you know the way this whole thing came together. We were talking to Alex and we put this deal together about a month before the first race and here we are winning the Indy 500. It’s just crazy.”
The evening also featured the presentation of the 2016 PwC Global Automotive Shareholder Value Awards:
- U.S. Automotive Retailers – One-year period: Penske Automotive Group, Inc. +26.2%
- U.S. Automotive Retailers – Three-year period: Lithia Motors, Inc. +43.3%
- Global Automotive Parts Suppliers – One-year period: Calsonic Kansei Corp. +73.6%
- Global Automotive Parts Suppliers – Three-year period: Calsonic Kansei Corp. +208.6%
- Global Automotive Vehicle Manufacturers – One-year period: Suzuki Motor Corporation +15.8%
- Global Automotive Vehicle Manufacturers – Three-year period: Shanghai Automotive Ind. Corp. +75.7%