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Mary Barra Announces Creation of New GM Engineering Team for Vehicle Safety

April 16, 2014

In the 2014 Automotive Forum on Tuesday, General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced that she has created a new engineering team that would help improve vehicle safety.

“Today, I would like to announce the creation of a new Global Product Integrity organization within our Global Product Development function. This new organization will build on the formula and specific actions we have taken in recent years to lead the industry in vehicle dynamics,” Barra said.

“This new way of developing vehicles will provide the highest levels of safety, quality, and customer service… and ensure that a situation like the ignition-switch recall doesn’t happen again,” she added.

Barra noted that the new team, which includes the team of global safety chief Jeff Boyer, will be reporting to Global Product Development head Mark Reuss.

The conference, which was sponsored by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and J.D. Power and Associates, is the GM CEO’s first public appearance after testifying in Capitol Hill earlier this month and her third appearance after the recall controversy started. While she did speak about the recall, she chose to keep the focus away from it by highlighting the company’s achievements.

Barra’s next public appearance is at the New York International Auto Show. In her prepared remarks for the conference, she mentioned the two new vehicles that GM will be showing to the public at the auto show—the 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible and the Chevrolet Trax Urban subcompact SUV.

GM will also be unveiling the refreshed 2015 Chevrolet Cruze, which will be available starting this fall. The Cruze is the replacement for the Cobalt, which is one of the affected vehicles in the massive recall.

Surely, Barra wants the attention to be directed at GM’s latest offerings instead of the ongoing recall crisis. However, it will be difficult for the public to forget the problem, even if GM presents an impressive showcase of their latest products.

The Corvette Z06 Convertible is expected to be a hit with the auto show crowd. The car possesses everything that is notable about the Z06 Coupe, but in a more stunning package. This supercar, which is the first Corvette Z06 convertible to be built since 1963, retains all that makes the coupe remarkable. It is equipped with a 625-horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine and a seven-speed manual transmission.

Surprisingly, the Corvette Z06 Convertible also keeps its hardtop counterpart’s weight as well. Thanks to a stiff aluminum frame, this droptop is lighter compared to its rivals.

Also debuting in New York is the Trax, which GM is finally bringing to the United States. The automaker started the production of the subcompact SUV two years ago, but decided not to sell the model in the country. GM initially did not want the Trax to compete against some of its other vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers, and the Buick Encore.

What may have prompted GM to finally sell the vehicle in U.S. is the popularity of small SUVs. The Trax will be competition to the likes of Kia Soul, Nissan Juke and the Jeep Renegade, among others.

Photo credit: © General Motors CC BY-NC

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